European Union data privacy laws are nothing to sneeze at. The rules governing what information can be gathered about people living in the EU are some of the strictest in the world and they are actively enforced. This week, a German court found that Facebook’s “Like” Button violates users privacy rights. Huffington Post has the story.
It’s an interesting development because the Like Button seems so harmless. If you’re one of the few people manning the barricades of Facebook resistance and have not had a reason to encounter it, the Like Button is a simple icon that lets users publicly acknowledge that they approve of a particular post or profile. The button itself is not actually the problem, rather it is the effect of “liking” something that has the German officials so displeased. If you like a page for a business or a blog, the company who set up that profile is granted access to a limited amount of the Like-r’s profile information and other publicly available information. This seems to make sense for us in the United States, where people are used to trading personal data for access to cool things we like, but not so in Germany.
One thing that is tricky about EU privacy laws is that they are fairly diverse and vary from place to place. (more coming after I get some sleep)