Risk

7/8/2010
11:04 AM
50%
50%

Facebook Sued Over Privacy

German agency launched legal action against the social network for storing non-users' personal data gleaned through its address book sync feature.

Facebook, whose privacy policies have come under attack both at home and abroad, now faces a stiff fine from Germany's Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information for storing non-users' personal data without their permission.

The concern arises when Facebook accountholders use the site's invitation and address book sync features to upload data about non-users, then Facebook stores this data. Since some of these individuals do not belong to Facebook, at no time have they granted permission for the site to use or save private data -- such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses, the Hamburg commissioner said.

"We consider the saving of data from third parties, in this context, to be against data privacy laws," said Johannes Caspar, head of the Hamburg office for data protection, in a statement.

The legal action could result in a fine of tens of thousands of Euros, he said. "Many" people were contacted by Facebook after the site received their names and e-mail information from friends or colleagues on the social networking site, Caspar told the Associated Press. He declined to provide an exact number of complainants.

Facebook, which has until Aug. 11 to respond, confirmed receipt of the letter. "We are currently reviewing it and will readily respond to it within the given timeframe," Facebook told the AP.

Although Germany is known for its tough privacy-protection laws, it is not the only nation scrutinizing Facebook's use of user data. Canada, Britain, and Switzerland, for example, are looking into how the company safeguards and uses peoples' information.

On its home turf in the United States, Congress is looking into privacy protections on Facebook and other social networks to determine whether more government regulation is necessary.

Facebook has come head-to-head with a number of vocal and diverse government, privacy, and consumer advocates displeased with the company's many and frequent policy changes. Facebook responded to a spate of letters and complaints in late spring by revising and simplifying its policies, but in mid-June, 10 advocacy groups submitted an open letter to Facebook requesting six more changes.

"We are glad to see that Facebook has taken steps in the past weeks to address some of its outstanding privacy problems," the letter said. "However, we are writing to urge you to continue to demonstrate your commitment to the principle of giving users control over how and with whom they share by taking these additional steps."

Facebook quickly rebutted this request by reminding the advocacy groups of the recent changes and confirming its commitment to participating in ongoing talks about privacy and consumer protection.

On June 7, the site launched its dedicated Facebook and Privacy page, the company's most recent attempt at providing users with access to information on how to best protect their personal information.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Dark Reading Live EVENTS
INsecurity - For the Defenders of Enterprise Security
A Dark Reading Conference
While red team conferences focus primarily on new vulnerabilities and security researchers, INsecurity puts security execution, protection, and operations center stage. The primary speakers will be CISOs and leaders in security defense; the blue team will be the focus.
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: No, no, no! Have a Unix CRON do the pop-up reminders!
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
Enterprises are spending more of their IT budgets on cybersecurity technology. How do your organization's security plans and strategies compare to what others are doing? Here's an in-depth look.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.