Article 29 Working Group

Facebook, MySpace, Xing receive warning letters from EU consumer group

Social networks — In the wake of Europe’s Article 29 Working Party Opinion on Social Network Providers adopted in June, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) has sent out warning letters to five social networking providers in Germany, including Facebook and MySpace. The letters focus on the excessive rights the companies allow themselves in their respective Terms of Use agreements, and on shortcomings in the privacy policies. VZBV is comprised of 41 German consumer associations.

EU: Article 29 Working Party releases Opinion on social networking sites

Social networking and EU — The Article 29 Working Party has adopted an important Opinion regarding social networking sites as of June 12. The opinion covers privacy, advertising, sensitive information, and other issues relating to online social networking. Regarding sensitive data, the Article 29 Working Party stated: “Data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade-union membership or data concerning health or sex life is considered sensitive. Sensitive personal data may only be published on the Internet with the explicit consent from the data subject or if the data subject has made the data manifestly public himself.” Regarding use of sensitive data to target advertising, the Article 29 opinion stated: “The Working Party recommends not using sensitive data in behavioral advertising models, unless all legal requirements are met.” The opinion also stated that the EU Data Protection Directive generally applies to the processing of personal data by social networking services, even when their headquarters are outside of the EEA, and that social networking service providers are considered data controllers under the Data Protection Directive.