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back to article Upcoming EU data law will make Europe tricky for Facebook

EU-ro-crats are mulling new data protection laws that could make Europe a hostile place for Facebook and other social networks. The EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and the German Federal Minister for Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, met in Brussels for a consultation this week to draw up proposals for the EU's new data …

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They're sensible.

And it's about time. That is all.

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Facepalm

Fuss over nothing

What ever the new rules are, facebook will just add a splash screen next time the user logs in asking them to accept them. What ever agreement facebook is required to get. 99% of users will just tick the box and business as usual.

It's sad and I won't be one, as I dont' use fb. But tru non the less. most people are stupid :)

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Silver badge

Good for the EU, and good for Reding and the other commissioners involved. It CAN work if it's well thought-out:

1) have the wording on any splash screen enforced by the EU so instead of 20 pages of unintelligible legalese there are simple statements like "I allow FB to pass on / sell my personally identifiable data (Y/N)"

2) make use of the fact that FB can technically work without personal data being divulged to 3rd parties, so users can click 'N' and still access FB

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Anonymous Coward

A question about being European

I'm British, but live in the US, so if I chose to identify myself to a social networking site as being "European", could I then have the "benefit" of EU data protection law? And what would stop every man and his dog claiming to be from Europe? Apart from basic dishonesty.

An IP address is no guarantee of national origin or residence. Even my so-called friends couldn't be used to figure out my place of residence.

Yes, a stupid question, I know.

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You have EU passport so if you provide its scan to FB to prove it, they are obliged to conform to EU laws, no matter if you are in a totalitarian regime currently or not.

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And how are they going to enforce that?

They can get Facebook/Google etc because they have an Eu office in Ireland.

If Facebook (Bermuda) is using data centers in Russia to serve web pages to a european how exactly is the Eu data protector going to enforce it? Invade Russia, threaten to cut off trade relations with the USA?

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Anonymous Coward

Block them?

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Silver badge

They don't block teh FB website, they block any funds transfers from EU-based advertisers to any FB account. I believe it could be both legally enforceable AND effective since FB either complies (and gets a reduced ad revenue in teh EU because of less data available), or refuses (and loses it's EU revenue stream altogether)

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Coat

Will it work?

I'll be impressed if they actually make this stick.

Imagine that Facebook adds a new screen when people login telling them that they have to accept the terms and conditions before they can continue. Ideally they would make their T&Cs about 2000 paragraphs, and in a window about 30 chars wide by 10 lines.

How many Facebookers are going to say no? What would the law have achieved?

Now, if they have to ask you every single time they want to give away / sell your data, maybe people will get fed up with it (although obviously it will be "Europe's fault!), but probably Facebook will still make it a requirement to use thier system, so people will still say yes.

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Pint

Precedent

The key is the reference to "doing business in the single market". This is where the EU is the 800lb gorilla and why it took on Microsoft and won and why Paypal had to set up a subsidiary in Luxemburg and apply for a banking licence.

The law only seems to be uniting the disparate privacy and data protection laws of the various member states. It is already the legal position in Germany. It should also be noted "click through" notices do not count as providing informed consent which is why Microsoft and Apple EULAs are not valid in Germany.

Aigner seems to be on a personal vendetta against Facebook but Reding has a good track record of taking on the mobile industry and forcing through max charges for mobile roaming. Cheers, Viviane.

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Happy

2000 paragraphs is not the same as explicit consent. Current data protection laws are enforced by a 2-3 sentence besides a check box on contracts so for consumers the difference will be minor.

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Will this also count...

...towards in-app advertising on mobile platforms?

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Facepalm

Good luck with that

"EU law will be enforced even if the company is based in a third country and has its data centres outside the EU, the statement reaffirmed."

Either the EU is going to create the Great Firewall of Europe, or this is a totally lost cause. It may cause Facebook, etc. to move their datacenters and other points of presence out of Europe, though. At least they won't have those pesky jobs... ;)

-d

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Why would it be a lost cause?

Once a ruling is passed that any entity in the EU which allows its network to directly connect to facebook.com is going to get clobbered with a fine of a few tens of millions, the problem is solved.

If anyone is prepared to set up VPN links and use gateways in order to get their fix of facebook, then they are clearly aware that they are stepping outside the boundaries of EU regulation and are implicitly consenting to the consequences. I estimate that as many as 0.1% of facebook users would have the technical ability and the inclination to put in place such a workaround.

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Big Brother

Will this also apply to...

3rd parties, i.e. say a american or canadian friend upload my contact details (it's already happened) do I have the right to demand that FB remove it? I hope so I really hope so because I hate social networking because it invaids my privacy. I tell the world what I want when I want I don't like it working the other way round.

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Anonymous Coward

The elephant in the room

This should be a really major issue, and its about time it's addressed by DP rules. Networks (and advertisers / business in general) should be fined till they cry for using or publishing information or details for those who have not given their consent. So no more 3rd party address book dumps or photo tagging on facebook. If the information is not confirmed as their own by the user uploading it, and it does not match any other user on their database, it doesn't get published, retained or mined. Easy enough really.

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Facepalm

Suck on that one NHS Choices.

Like it sez ^^^^

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How exactly to they expect to enforce their laws if Google and Facebook pull out such that they have no physical nexus in Europe?

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Google and Facebook...

...pulling out of Europe is about as likely as these data laws making any notable difference in the next five years.

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FAIL

Preceding a Ferrari with a red flag

One day the EU might wake up to the fact that while it can confidently dictate life to the 500 million folk held captive in its lumbering, illegitimate oligarchy, if it tries the same with the rest of the world it will be like walking ahead of a Ferrari with a red flag.

We can see this clearly in the fallout from the EU's cynical efforts to bribe its smaller 'States' into subservient allegiance with obscene handouts and manipulated, unrealistic loans, creating an eventual economic disaster that could have been easily foretold twenty years ago by Monty Python's ex-parrot.

Sadly for the self-appointed commissars' grandiose ambitions, the real world wants a return on its investment; it is not interested in propping up their collapsing 'superstate' construct. Neither, I suspect, are the 500 million inmates who have never given them a mandate to build such a thing.

I cannot see Facebook and its multi-million worldwide followers obediently kow-towing to this clapped-out bunch of strutting buffoons. What will they do? Ban it? Perhaps they are already following orders from the very large country to the east that they are currently on their knees to for money to bail them out of the financial mess they have got themselves into. The '800lb gorilla' might soon be dancing to the tune of an inscrutable organ grinder.

This issue is best resolved by those who really do have power over Facebook - its customers. And the myriad web-based forums that can advise them. "More laws, less justice" my Mother used to say. And there are certainly plenty of laws in the EU.

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Happy

"Upcoming EU data law will make Europe tricky for Facebook"

Good. About time, too.

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Anonymous Coward

I'd prefer to see existing laws about how our police, governments and banks use our data, hardened and enforced first.

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Anonymous Coward

the EU is simply raising cash

no way this holds water under free trade trade agreements , but the legal battle will be long and arduous. As such goog and FB pony up some billions and the EU drops the idea or waters it down so heavily that it is easily bypassed.

:tinfoil: etc etc etc, but whassisnames scalpel seems the obvious here

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Megaphone

They clearly need cash (not to mention legitimacy)

Good point. The EU does seem a bit short of cash at the moment. This action also makes the EU seem wonderful and noble in the eyes of the peasants, creating the illusion that it actually operates for their benefit rather than its own self-importance. I seem to recall the 'brave stand' they took against Microsoft achieved in reality precisely nothing, apart from a loud fanfare of Euro trumpets and a large hole in taxpayers' pockets.

"Look Mildred, we can choose a browser, thanks to the noble and wondrous EU."

"What's a browser, Stan?"

"That thing you go on Facebook with."

"I thought it was called Windows."

Actually Mildred, it is called unutterably pompous stupidity. And this seems much the same. And your Stan's paying for it, so bang goes your new winter coat. Still, look on the bright side - how much worse it would be if idiots like you were actually allowed to vote for who runs this noble and wondrous EU.

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Once again the notion that the universe is the product of random action,

rather than benevolent «intelligent creation», is shown to be, if not irrefutably true, at least not entirely implausible : the bureaucrats of the European Union actually seem to be considering doing something that would benefit consumers, rather than transnational corporations ! Amazing, I agree, but it has in fact been done before in the Windows-IE bundling case. Now if only the Commission could be induced to address the hanky-panky that lies behind the current quasi-monopolistic situation with respect to operative systems on desktops and laptops for the general public....

Henri

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