News to know: Facebook privacy changes, Germany patent wars, iPhone suffers in Europe

Summary:News to know -- December 20-25: A look back at the news from London, the UK and wider Europe, on all the bits that were missed during the week's coverage.

Christmas is over, finally. With my week off and all, it was a conveniently perfect time for a storm of news to hit the technology pages in my absence.

It's time to catch up with what happened as we finish off the turkey trimmings, loosen our belt buckles, and sit down to watch rubbish Boxing Day television.

(I know what you're thinking: "What's Boxing Day?". Most Brits don't even know, but for the sake of argument, nowadays it is just the first day after Christmas).

Forget the minutia; here's what you need to know.

European citizens get Facebook data hoarding reprieve

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has told Facebook to review its privacy policies for non-U.S. citizens, including the social network stopping its practice of indefinitely retaining users' data pertaining to advertisements.

It means that after 90 days, European users' data relating to its social plugin impressions -- such as external 'like' buttons and shared content -- must be deleted.

But the problem is that this only applies to the 500 million or so users outside the United States, rather than as well as the tens of millions on U.S. soil.

The social network was told to be more transparent about its users' data regarding advertising, along with 35 other privacy changes to satisfy both Irish and European law.

In the meantime, other data protection agencies are looking into Facebook -- which has an estimated 850 million users worldwide -- into its practices, policies and privacy settings.

German courts kept busy with patent spats: Samsung vs. Apple, HTC

On Thursday, one German court rejected Apple's bid to further disrupt sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab, after the revisions to change the competing tablet's designed were found to be 'just fine'.

Samsung had sufficiently changed the tablet's design to satisfy the courts, but not Apple for which it is competing with. To reflect the changes, Samsung renamed the tablet to the Galaxy Tab 10.1N.

But it's not over yet. Just because this preliminary assessment falls in Samsung's favour, it only goes a way to suggest the final ruling expected in early February.

At a different court in Germany, patent firm IPCom sued about 25 retailers in the country for continuing to sell HTC manufactured phones.

While Taiwan-based HTC continues to be involved in litigation over the validity of the UMTS technology, the patent in question, HTC has to seek other markets to combat the shortfall in sales in Germany.

The patent firm asked retailers not to continue selling HTC phones, and when they didn't, they were lumped in with patent infringement claims also.

iPhone 'only prospers' in UK: Rest of Europe shows little interest

The iPhone 4S may account for just shy of a third of all smartphones sold in the last quarter. Apple's share across Europe has -- believe it or not -- actually dropped, with the UK picking up most of the slack.

Both France and Germany, and Italy and Spain, have opted for cheaper smartphones in cash-strapped economies, CNET UK reports.

Apple's marketshare in France dropped 9 percent and 5 percent in Germany, with both scraping above the 20 percent share mark.

The UK, detached from mainland Europe, remains a key player in Apple's smartphone share. Australia and the U.S. still show storming growth, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

From previous weeks:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Apple, iPhone, Mobility

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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