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Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Court Rules Facebook Must Comply With German Data Protection Law

The Higher Court of Berlin has ruled that Facebook has to comply with German data protection law.

In a case brough in court by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV), the court ruled that Facebook's 'Terms of Service' and 'Privacy Policy' violate the German law. It also found that Facebook's Friend Finder violated German law because it was unclear to users that they imported their entire address book into the social network when using it. In addition, according to the verdict, the European subsidiary of Facebook (Facebook Ireland) must comply with German data protection law.

The Higher Court of Berlin's verdict is in opposition to a verdict of the Administrative Court of Appeals of the State of Schleswig-Holstein, which had ruled that Irish data protection rules and not German data protection law should apply to Facebook.

"The verdict is a milestone for data protection in the Facebook era. With the ruling, the Court of Berlin has made a clear statement as to which law applies for Facebook," said Carola Elbrecht, VZBV's project manager for consumer rights in the digital world.

The VZBV also calls on the Federal Government to advocate for a speedy implementation of the EU Data Protection Regulation in order to guarantee an uniform legal framework on data protection.

The Administrative Court of Appeals' decision is final and cannot be appealed.

However, the Higher Court of Berlin ruling is not final, so Facebook could object to it within a month. Such an objection could lead to a review of the case by Germany's highest court, the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe.

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