German court rules Facebook ‘Like’ violates privacy

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A German court has ruled that the Facebook ‘Like’ button infringes German and EU privacy laws by transferring data without the knowledge of consumers.

The Consumer Advice Organisation sued two e-commerce websites saying they had transferred data to Facebook without consent but using the ‘Like’ buttons on their websites.  Talks with two other companies still using the function are ongoing.

The group originally sent cease-and-desist orders over the data collection to six companies, two of which agreed to stop using it.

Now, the Dusseldorf court has ruled that companies will have to inform consumers that clicking the ‘Like’ button may cause the IP address of the clicker to be transferred to Facebook, Sky News reported.

“No one knows what Facebook does with the data,” said Sabine Petri, lawyer for the consumer watchdog.

The Consumer Advice Organisation said Facebook installs bits of software on people’s computers that can be used to compile a profile of interests even if they don’t have a Facebook account.

The verdict could have repercussions for companies across Germany, where Facebook is already facing a probe by the Federal Cartel Office, looking into possible abuse of user data and violation of data protection laws.