European privacy regulators are looking more closely at whether the Facebook and YouTube practice of allowing users to post videos, photos or other information about others without their consent violates their privacy. The Associated Press reports:
The Swiss and German probes go to the heart of a debate that has gained momentum in Europe amid high-profile privacy cases: To what extent are social networking platforms responsible for the content their members upload?
The investigations come on the heels of an Italian court's decision to hold three Google executives criminally responsible for video uploaded by users.
Experts have said before that the European approach to privacy is different than the approach in the United States, but this investigation sets the stage for changing the way Google, Facebook and others like them do business, according to the AP. The story quotes Columbia Law professor Eben Moglen as follows:
If the European regulators get serious, it will create a significant conflict. If the Europeans want that fight, then surely the American government wants the other side.
To comply with Swiss law, Facebook would have to contact non-users whose information is posted and get their express consent to store it there. And German officials have written to the social-networking giant regarding its failures to comply with their laws, said Thilo Weichert, data protection commissioner in the northern German state of Schleswig Holstein.