• Germany's news in English
 

Should Schufa trawl your Facebook page?

Published: 08 Jun 2012 12:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Jun 2012 15:41 GMT+02:00

This week a joint investigation by radio station NDR Info and Die Welt newspaper discovered internal Schufa papers about tasking a research group with working out how to link information found on the internet with other details about personal credit rating.

Although the research institute – the private Hasso-Plattner Institute in Potsdam – said on Friday it was pulling out of the project because it had been “misunderstood” – the question remains of what information could reasonably be used by Schufa in making a credit rating.

The idea was to use profiles on services such as Facebook, Xing and Twitter in order to get addresses, as well as gleaning information from property rental and sale sites such as immoscout24 or mobile.de.

This kind of talk always touches a nerve in Germany, where people are notoriously sensitive to data protection rules - as can be seen in the trail of legal wrangles with sites like Facebook and Google Street View. Germany successfully fought a battle to allow people to have their hones pixellated out on the latter.

The country's consumer protection and data protection groups are furious about the new intervention. “There is always a reason behind such research projects. If Schufa actually uses such data, it would be a completely new dimension,” said Thilo Weichert, data protection commissioner for the state of Schleswig-Holstein.

But what do you think? Are the Germans just being paranoid, or do the credit bureaux have the right to use whatever means necessary to provide accurate credit ratings, even of private individuals? How would you feel if you knew that Schufa was scanning your Facebook profile?

Let us know!

Registered users of The Local may add their comments in the field below. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here – it’s free and only takes a moment.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:32 June 8, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
In no way an intolerable violation. If people are dumb enough to willingly provide this information for all and sundry to see, then SCHUFE would be stupid not to use this information.

Imagine this scenario though. You are in no way a credit risk, but lots of your "friends" on facebook have a horrible credit rating. Would they automatically write down your credit-worthiness as some of your mates are notorious credit card junkies? I reckon that's the dangerous part.
13:54 June 8, 2012 by yourkeau
I'm absolutely comfortable with having my Facebook profile scanned as I don't have one.
14:05 June 8, 2012 by Bigfoot76
@yourkeau....I just made one for you. I will get you the log in later. :D
15:28 June 8, 2012 by finanzdoktor
@Karl_Berlin: You have a point. Would my credit rating go down, just because my friends on Facebook are a credit risk? Just like my property value suffers, if a neighbor or two doesn't take care of their property?

But, I think the more pressing questions (not exhaustive) are: 1) How is the profile information relevant to making a viable credit risk assessment?; 2) What factors in the profile will be used and how will they be weighted?; 3) What if I don't have some information in my profile, will the credit rating agency want me to post it, or else?; and 4) What if I don't have a Facebook account (e.g., yourkeau), will I be told to get one, and post a profile and accept friends so they can assess whether or not my associates are credit worthy or not?
15:40 June 8, 2012 by bwjijsdtd
1933 all over again ... What did the credit agencies do before computers, internet and the paving of the Internet Highway ...
15:59 June 8, 2012 by Bigfoot76
I am sure they would be required to be hypocritical as well. I am sure that many of the people who assess the credit of individuals would probably have similar traits to those they are scrutinizing. The off colored friend who posts not so PC comments, a photo or two of what happened when the guys or gals went out on the town, political statements supporting or criticizing one party or another. The list goes on but honestly, who does not have something on their profile that can not be viewed as controversial? Not even the Pope.
16:09 June 8, 2012 by aruntutu
I would be rather pissed if Schufa were to go anywhere close to my FB profile, never mind why they want to do it. It is not their concern so I would much rather they stay out of my personal life. Scoundrels i tell you!
19:56 June 8, 2012 by iche
I still don't see why anyone would want to have an account with Facebookistan.

And for those dumb enough to put there life, for all to see and read, forever, I have no pity for the consequences they suffer.
20:34 June 8, 2012 by raandy
I will make the same comment i made on this before.

In the ever expanding information highway and the ever increasing demand for information,about consumers, and their personnel life styles likes and dislikes.The abuse by authorities and the private sector of information garnered off the good intentions of the public,only to willing to put it out there.

I say let the user beware. No thanks
13:00 June 9, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Apparently due to the public and political backlash, this has now been abandoned........If the Bild is to be believed......................lol
13:34 June 9, 2012 by AlexR
Facebook? This is so last century.
13:22 June 11, 2012 by bobmarchiano
Abandoned ......... how would one know if anyone from the government to SCHUFA

has looked at your face book account
14:26 June 11, 2012 by Wobinidan
I'm not sure how they can find out my credit-worthiness through my sarcastic comments. Unless you write a comment like "just took out 5 loans that I can't afford LOL" I don't think this is a very cost-effective idea.
13:47 June 13, 2012 by Alfa166
US employers used to look around FB profiles before hiring. A federal law now make it forbidden.
19:27 June 15, 2012 by Mark S.
Who would post "I can't afford my loans?" Lots of people. In the US, there have been several convictions of criminals who admitted their crime on facebook. Admitting that you have money problems is less obviously stupid, but could still cause you problems.

But if you don't use facebook, you are safe, right? No. Credit agencies are well known for making mistakes with their data. Suppose somebody with a similar name to yours posts on facebook that they have money problems. That could affect your credit rating even if you have never heard of facebook.
22:40 June 24, 2012 by The-ex-pat
A story from the 8th of June back on the front page........Slow news day then??
15:48 July 19, 2012 by Floriansamsel
Dear SCHUFA - did you ever consider YouTube accounts, too? Might be as reliable a source of information as Facebook...

Is it April Fool's Day again?

On the other hand: if I had a Facebook account, this would really make me think it over....
Today's headlines
Constitutional Court allows 'FCK CPS' sticker

Constitutional Court allows 'FCK CPS' sticker

The Constitutional Court decided on Tuesday that it is within someone's right to freedom of expression to wear the FCK CPS logo, but only if the insult is aimed at police in general. READ  

Germany's 'other genocide' in Namibia
Protests in 2014 about the recognition of the Herero genocide. Photo: DPA

Germany's 'other genocide' in Namibia

Between 1904 and 1907 German colonial rulers in Namibia attempted to exterminate a whole section of the native population, in another horrific chapter of history campaigners are calling on the country to face up to. READ  

Nepal earthquake
At least one German confirmed dead in Nepal
Search and rescue efforts are ongoing in Nepal. Photo:DPA

At least one German confirmed dead in Nepal

The Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Local on Tuesday that one German citizen was killed in the earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday. READ  

Germany may have 10m fewer people by 2060
Photo: DPA

Germany may have 10m fewer people by 2060

If low birth rates and high death rates continue as they are now, a major decline in Germany’s population is “inevitable,” the federal statistics office (Destatis) reported on Tuesday. READ  

Opinion
Germany should fear Brexit more than Grexit
British Pime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on EU membership. Photo: DPA

Germany should fear Brexit more than Grexit

With all European – and especially German – eyes on Greece, Michael Wohlgemuth asks why the EU isn't more worried about a British exit from the Union. READ  

Police shoot man dead in Rhineland-Palatinate
Photo: DPA

Police shoot man dead in Rhineland-Palatinate

A 40-year-old man died in hospital in Grünstadt, Rhineland Palatinate after being shot by police on Monday evening. READ  

Daimler hit with Greek corruption charges
German soldiers in a 'Unimog' truck made by Daimler. Photo: DPA

Daimler hit with Greek corruption charges

Greek prosecutors announced on Monday they are bringing charges against several Daimler managers, who they say were involved in multi-million euro bribes to Greek authorities. READ  

Germany's surrender order under the hammer
Admiral Dönitz (m) with Albert Speer (l) and General Alfred Jodl (r). Photo: DPA

Germany's surrender order under the hammer

Marooned on a naval base in northwest Germany, pinned down by advancing Allied forces and Adolf Hitler dead, the last leader of the Third Reich hammered out the surrender order. READ  

Merkel not yet 'Mutti' of the Twittersphere
Photo: DPA

Merkel not yet 'Mutti' of the Twittersphere

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the only G7 leader not to have a Twitter account, according to a report on the social network released on Tuesday. READ  

Kindergarten wage negotiations fail
Photo: DPA

Kindergarten wage negotiations fail

The public services union Ver.di announced on Monday evening that negotiations over a pay increase for Kindergarten teachers had failed. Strikes will start at the end of next week and go on for an indefinite period. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,170
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd
?>