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P R E S S E M I T T E I L U N G
After the Unabhängige Landeszentrum für Datenschutz (ULD), the Data Protection Authority (DPA) from the state of Schleswig-Holstein, on August 19, 2011 called on all institutions in Schleswig-Holstein to shut down fan pages and remove “like” buttons from their websites an intensive dialog started between ULD and all parties involved. Facebook’s Richard Allan described his company’s position on September 7, 2011 in a meeting at Kiel to ULD and to the home affairs and judiciary committee of the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag (legislative assembly of the state). In a letter of September 16, 2011 he explained for the first time in detail and in writing the position of his company. Facebook is of the opinion that fan pages solely belong under its own responsibility and are subject to Irish data protection law. Public and private website owners in Schleswig-Holstein would not be responsible for traffic data collected from those pages. With regard to the “like”-button Facebook claims not to generate profiles of non-members of the social network, and members, to that end, are deemed to give valid consent.
In a first replica ULD faces up to the arguments delivered by Facebook and shows in reference to the Working Papers 169 and 179 of the European Article 29 Working Party which determines the consistent data protection standards in the European Union, that German website owners have responsibility for the processing of traffic data by Facebook. As long as Facebook cannot provide information about the purposes for which and what kind of traffic data are processed in the USA, website owners in Germany cannot answer for the passing on of these data. The alleged consent of Facebook-members to generate profiles does not meet the requirements set out by German and European law. A precondition for a data protection compliant use of Facebook is clear information of users and of their choices.
Thilo Weichert, head of ULD: “The readiness to engage in dialogue shown by Facebook and by website owners in Schleswig-Holstein does not dispense the ones responsible from compliance with data protection law. In the interest of resolving the legal situation quickly and reliable, ULD will – as signalized – request in October statements from selected public and private website owners in Schleswig-Holstein and will initiate administrative actions. Our aim is the application of the provisions on data protection; it is not about competitive distortion or harassing small businesses.” If trade associations like IHK (Chamber of Industry and Commerce) or DIWISH, and thus the digital industry in Schleswig-Holstein, are inclined to contribute to our endeavour, they are more than welcome.
ULD is involved in an intensive dialogue with the parties involved, such as just shown at the Conference of the Data Protection Commissioners of the Federal State and the Laender in Munich. There it was nationwide confirmed by the supervisory authorities, that for public institutions, the use of fan pages and “like”-buttons is out of the question. The integration of plug-ins is generally illegal if it triggers a data transfer to the USA even if the users are not registered with the platform. The Conference points out that this data protection problem also exists for other internet providers.
ULD will not give up hope that someday Facebook-applications will be designed and used in compliance with data protection and privacy. Weichert: “To get there, it is not enough to signalize readiness for dialogue and to take small changes; necessary is a total break in course. Here, we are only at the beginning. The current publications about processing and information policy of Facebook demonstrate this. We are aware that this will not be achieved without conflict.”
The Statement made by Facebook of September 16, 2011 as well as ULD’s response and the current resolution of the Conference of Data Protection Commissioners of the Federal State and the Laender, as well as further material is available at
For inquiries please contact:
Unabhängiges Landeszentrum für Datenschutz Schleswig-Holstein
Holstenstr. 98, 24103 Kiel
Tel +49 (0) 431 988-1200, Fax: -1223