Facebook in Hot Water with German Consumer Protection Minister

Lora Bentley

I could almost feel sorry for Facebook. Yet another country's privacy chief is on its case about consumer privacy issues. First the Canadian Privacy Commission took issue with Facebook, then the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and now Germany has joined the fight. v3.co.uk reports:

[Germany's consumer protection minister] Ilse Aigner complained directly to Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg about the site's proposed changes to its privacy policy..."I was astonished to discover that, despite the concerns of users and severe criticism from consumer activists, Facebook would like to relax data protection regulations on the network even further," she said.

But I say "almost" because Facebook has brought all of this on itself. How many times in the past year has the social-networking site tweaked its privacy policies? And how many times has it responded to user complaints with something equivalent to "People aren't all that concerned about privacy anymore?" Apparently, someone is still concerned. In fact, several "someones" are still concerned, and some of them are quite powerful.


If the company is not willing to back up a bit and give its users a little more control, Facebook would be wise to at least call a moratorium on privacy policy changes for the time being, at least until the regulators are more satisfied with its efforts. The fact that so many changes have been made in such rapid succession may be more of a problem than the actual changes themselves.

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