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Consumer group urges users to ditch Facebook

AFP · 7 Apr 2010, 20:31

Published: 07 Apr 2010 20:31 GMT+02:00

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"If protection of your personal data is important to you, we can only advise users to oppose the planned changes, and together with their friends to choose another provider," said the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBZ), an umbrella group for 42 German consumer associations.

The call followed an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg this week from Ilse Aigner, consumer affairs minister, threatening to delete her Facebook account in protest at the US firm's "astounding" plans.

The VZBZ said that Facebook should have to ask its 400 million users worldwide for approval every time personal information is passed on to third parties, via an "opt-in" option.

At present, Facebook and other operators have an "opt-out" option, whereby users are forced to go through a laborious and time-consuming process to stop private information being given to others, it said.

"Responsibility for respecting data protection lies with the provider, not with the consumer," the group said.

Facebook issued last month updated privacy guidelines saying that it would "occasionally" need to provide general user information to "pre-approved third party websites and applications" accessed by Facebook members while logged on.

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"In these cases we require these websites and applications to go through an approval process, and to enter into separate agreements designed to protect your privacy," it said.

Partly for historical reasons, Germany is particularly sensitive about privacy issues, with campaigners bristling at plans by US Internet giant Google to launch its "Street View" service later this year allowing users to view panoramic still photos of city streets.

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Your comments about this article

20:54 April 7, 2010 by ichiban_kunoichi
Here's an option: Use Facebook. Don't put all your personal stuff in your profile. Everyone wins!
23:08 April 7, 2010 by The-ex-pat
I have to say, I prefer to do my social networking down the pub face to face with real people.
23:14 April 7, 2010 by berlinski
Cannot see the big deal here. Why do I need Facebook? Seems like a pointless waste of time to me.
00:21 April 8, 2010 by cobalisk
Canada is also concerned about citizens privacy and a bit over a year ago took FB to task publically. This resulted in significant changes and expansions to FB user privacy settings worldwide allowing greater limitations on who sees what on your account. These changes have been well received and likely would not have occurred without the strong position taken by Canada.

It is important to remember that other countries do have much stricter privacy laws than the U.S. and as such U.S. firms often can get some backlash when they simply apply the American equivalent abroad.

Privacy is important and those who take up the fight to maintain at least minimal privacy options should be applauded not pilloried.

It has nothing to do with anti-americanism and everything to do with differing cultures and differing degrees of what constitutes 'privacy'.
10:29 April 8, 2010 by michael4096

I don't know any country that forbids this practice - please, tell us whom.

I notice that many free trials in germany now explicitely state that the contract will be cancelled automatically after the trial period.
10:45 April 8, 2010 by majura
If you can't figure out how to stop information being passed on or block stupid people that love applications then you're no worse off since you probably happily open spam without realising it. It's the same people I see in the shopping centre, entering a 'competition' to win a Opel.

If you can't understand the internet- don't use it.
10:48 April 10, 2010 by Deutschguy
I opt out of every application on FB. I do enjoy sharing photos from my family and friends. My hometown and high school are 5,000 miles away from Berlin, so FB keeps me connected to people I grew up with.

Yes, sometimes the Farmville notifications are annoying. But seeing pics of my nephews and nieces always makes me smile. What's wrong with that? And they like it when I post pics of Germany or Europe, since it is a more personal view of places that i get to travel.
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