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German Official: Facebook 'Like' Button Unlawful

Legislator says plug-in violates privacy laws
By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2011 4:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – Facebook users in Germany probably won't like this news. A German official has ruled that the site's popular "like" plug-in violates European Union privacy laws, reports the Washington Post. The official says the feature tracks the habits of users, and sites based in his Schleswig-Holstein district will be hit with a $72,000 fine if they don't remove the button. "Whoever visits Facebook.com or uses a plug-in must expect that he or she will be tracked by the company for two years," said data protection chief Thilo Weichert, according to AP. "Facebook builds a broad individual and for members even a personalized profile."

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Not so, says Facebook. A spokesman conceded that the company can see "information such as the IP address" of users who visit a site with a "like" button, but "we delete this technical data within 90 days. That is in keeping with normal industry standards." Earlier this month, another German official pleaded with Facebook to remove its photo-tagging feature over privacy concerns, notes the New York Times. (In other Facebook-Germany news: A 40-year-old state legislator resigned after his affair with a 16-year-old came to light. He met her on the site, notes the Sydney Morning Herald.)

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