Student group takes Facebook privacy gripes to court

Tue Dec 4, 2012 10:58am EST
 

By Georgina Prodhan and Conor Humphries

VIENNA/DUBLIN (Reuters) - An Austrian student group plans to go to court in a bid to make Facebook Inc, the world's biggest social network, do more to protect the privacy of its hundreds of millions of members.

Campaign group europe-v-facebook, which has been lobbying for reforms at the U.S. company for more than a year, said it would appeal against decisions by the data protection regulator in Ireland, where Facebook has its international headquarters.

The group has filed 22 separate complaints against Facebook, winning some concessions including pushing the social network to switch off its facial recognition feature in Europe.

But it said on Tuesday the changes did not go far enough and it was disappointed with the results of an audit carried out by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) in response to its complaints, which it now plans to challenge in court.

"We'll be fighting Facebook via the DPC," the group's founder, Max Schrems, told Reuters.

The move is one of a number of campaigns against the giants of the internet, who are under pressure from investors to generate more revenue from their huge user bases but also face criticism for storing and sharing personal information.

Internet search engine Google, for example, has been told by the European Union to make changes to a new policy that pools data collected on users of its services including YouTube, gmail and Google+, from which users cannot opt out.

Facebook's shares have dropped 40 percent in value since the company's record-breaking $104 billion initial public offering in May as revenue growth has slowed.   Continued...

 
The Facebook "thumbs up" icon and logo are displayed in a window at the offices of J.P. Morgan in New York City, New York, May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Lee Celano