European Privacy Experts Slam Facebook

Facebook is feeling some heat in Europe. Deutsche Welle says the company has attempted to reform its behavior six months after Hamburg’s privacy commissioner, Johannes Caspar, threatened them with fines.

Thomas Hoeren, a professor at the Institute for Information, Telecommunication and Media Law at the University of Muenster told Deutsche Welle that the recent changes won’t be enough.

“It’s still not perfect, but it’s certainly an improvement to previous regulations. But I doubt that the alterations will solve the problem,” he said.

“Rights of third parties are affected and Facebook can’t shift its responsibilities onto others. If Facebook provides such an infrastructure, that’s a contributory infringement and Facebook can’t just pass that on to the user.”

This view is echoed by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute in the United Kingdom.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but Facebook is light-years away from adequate regulations for data protection and privacy in terms of European regulations,” he told Deutsche Welle.

“You still don’t have complete control. Facebook says the moment you participate in the network, exploitation rights are passed over to us. The system becomes very simple since everything belongs to Facebook. But this is no longer sufficient for a lot of people. Startups such as Diaspora or MyCube allow users to be in control as they can decide on how long they are willing to share certain things online.”

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