Student group takes Facebook privacy gripes to court

VIENNA/DUBLIN Tue Dec 4, 2012 11:57pm IST

In this photo illustration, a Facebook logo on a computer screen is seen through glasses held by a woman in Bern May 19, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Hodel/Files

In this photo illustration, a Facebook logo on a computer screen is seen through glasses held by a woman in Bern May 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Hodel/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   
A statue of Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, is carried in a taxi to a place of worship on the first day of the ten-day-long Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

During Ganesh Chaturthi idols will be taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, and will be immersed in a river or the sea in accordance with Hindu faith.  Slideshow 

VIENNA/DUBLIN (Reuters) - An Austrian student group plans to go to court in a bid to make Facebook Inc (FB.O), the world's biggest social network, do more to protect the privacy of its hundreds of millions of members.

Campaign group europe-v-facebook, which has been lobbying for reforms at the U.S. company for more than a year, said it would appeal against decisions by the data protection regulator in Ireland, where Facebook has its international headquarters.

The group has filed 22 separate complaints against Facebook, winning some concessions including pushing the social network to switch off its facial recognition feature in Europe.

But it said on Tuesday the changes did not go far enough and it was disappointed with the results of an audit carried out by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) in response to its complaints, which it now plans to challenge in court.

"We'll be fighting Facebook via the DPC," the group's founder, Max Schrems, told Reuters.

The move is one of a number of campaigns against the giants of the internet, who are under pressure from investors to generate more revenue from their huge user bases but also face criticism for storing and sharing personal information.

Internet search engine Google (GOOG.O), for example, has been told by the European Union to make changes to a new policy that pools data collected on users of its services including YouTube, gmail and Google+, from which users cannot opt out.

Facebook's shares have dropped 40 percent in value since the company's record-breaking $104 billion initial public offering in May as revenue growth has slowed.

Facebook, due to hold a conference call later on Tuesday to answer customer concerns about its privacy policy, said its data protection policies exceeded European requirements.

"The latest Data Protection report demonstrates not only how Facebook adheres to European data protection law but also how we go beyond it, in achieving best practice," a Facebook spokesman said in an emailed comment.

"Nonetheless we have some vocal critics who will never be happy whatever we do and whatever the DPC concludes."

TECHNOLOGY HUB

Last month, Facebook proposed to combine its user data with that of its recently acquired photo-sharing service Instagram, loosen restrictions on emails between its members and share data with other businesses and affiliates that it owns.

Late on Monday, it invited users to vote on the proposed changes to its policies, which have generated almost 90,000 user comments as well as concerns from some privacy-advocacy groups and a request for more information from the DPC.

Ian Maude, an analyst at London-based technology and media analysis firm Enders Analysis, said privacy concerns were not stopping more and more people from using social networks.

"Every time Facebook gets its wrist slapped, they make some adjustments to their privacy policy," he added.

Among its complaints, europe-v-facebook said more than 40,000 Facebook users who had requested a copy of the data Facebook was holding on them had not received anything several months after making a request.

Ireland has become a hub for the international operations of U.S. technology firms including Google and Microsoft (MSFT.O), who are attracted by a generous tax regime and in return create employment for thousands.

Gary Davies, Ireland's deputy data protection commissioner, denied Facebook's investment in Ireland had influenced regulation of the company.

"We have handled this in a highly professional and focused way and we have brought about huge changes in the way Facebook handles personal data," he told Reuters.

Europe-v-facebook said it believed its Irish battle had the potential to become a test case for data protection law and had a good chance of landing up in the European Court of Justice.

Schrems said the case could cost the group around 100,000 euros, which it hoped to raise via crowd-funding - money provided by a collection of individuals - on the Internet. (Additional reporting by Stephen Mangan in Dublin; Editing by Mark Potter)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Tech for health

Reuters Showcase

Wearable Gadgets

Wearable Gadgets

Swatch prefers go-it-alone route for smartwatch plans.  Full Article 

Google Drones

Google Drones

Google tests drones for deliveries.  Video 

New iPhone

New iPhone

Apple working with NXP for pay-by-touch technology in new iPhone - FT.  Full Article 

Legal Case

Legal Case

Bitcoin promoter to plead guilty to unlicensed money transmission.  Full Article 

Online Crackdown

Online Crackdown

China's Tencent shuts messaging accounts after censorship rules - state media.  Full Article 

Hot Commodity

Hot Commodity

Data scientists are increasingly becoming important to the world's tech companies.  Video 

Agriculture App

Agriculture App

CME Group smartphone game lets students "beef up" on ag economics.  Full Article 

Copyright Dispute

Copyright Dispute

Oracle loses bid to restore $1.3 bln SAP verdict, could get new trial  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage