Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported on an open letter from Germany’s consumer protection minister Ilse Aigner to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg criticizing the social-networking site’s privacy policies. She said, “”Private information must remain private. Unfortunately, Facebook does not respect this wish.” (Germany joins many others in criticizing the social-networking site. Recently, the Washington Post reported on the controversy and recapped criticism of Facebook’s proposals.)
Now, Time has an update.
Germany has tough privacy laws, a response to the state surveillance systems that were put in place first by the Nazis and then by the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police. […]
Germany’s privacy laws also cover social-networking sites. Under the Telemedia Act, a website must get a user’s permission before passing personal data to a third party for other purposes. The consumer protection ministry says this applies to foreign Internet companies operating in Germany as well. […]
Germany’s data-protection officials have already taken their concerns over Facebook’s compliance with privacy laws to the European Union. The authorities insist that Facebook is violating German laws by setting “cookies” on German computers to capture users’ data. “Facebook is taking the e-mail addresses of non-users via the contact lists of members without asking the non-users’ permission, and they’re storing this data in the U.S.,” says Johannes Caspar, a data-protection officer in Hamburg, home to the German office of Facebook. “Facebook is able to create profiles of non-users — that’s in breach of German privacy law and doesn’t meet international privacy standards,” he says. […]