Facebook agrees to sign voluntary privacy code in Germany

Facebook has agreed to sign a voluntary code of conduct in Germany to protect users' data. The social networking giant's problems in the European country may finally be on the road to resolution.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Facebook has agreed to sign up to a voluntary code of conduct in Germany to protect users' data. This is the first time the social networking giant has taken such measures in a privacy-sensitive nation like Germany.

The agreement came after Richard Allan, Facebook's director of European public policy, went on a German tour this week, stopping on Wednesday in Kiel and Thursday in Berlin. While in Berlin, he met with Germany's Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich. Self-regulation is "especially important in the fast-moving domain of the Internet," Friedrich said in a statement.

"We support this initiative towards self-regulation," Allan said in a statement, according to The Local. "It can be a very effective way to protect the interests of internet users."

While in Kiel, Allan met with a Schleswig-Holstein state parliamentary committee. He told lawmakers that state data protection commissioner Thilo Weichert's recent accusations against Facebook were exaggerated.

Last month, Weichert's office declared using the Facebook Like button leads to profiling that infringes German and European data protection laws. The organization alleged Facebook builds a broad profile for individuals not on the service as well as a more personalized profile for each of its members.

The group also announced websites that use the Facebook Like button would be fined up to €50,000 ($72,000) if they did not remove it from their offerings by the end of September. It's not immediately clear if Thursday's deal would pre-empt such penalties.

Facebook has repeatedly come under fire in Germany, where privacy is a particularly sensitive issue for historical reasons, but the two appear to be making progress. "With Facebook's willingness to sign up for this self-regulation ... the debate over the extent to which German data protection law applies to Facebook has been considerably defused," the Interior Ministry said.

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