Germans to ues Facebook over Privacy Rights

Berlin – Consumer advocates in Germany said on Tuesday they have begun moves to sue Facebook, accusing the US online community company of trampling on privacy rights.

Haunted by Nazi-era abuses, Germans are sensitive about enterprises storing any information about people.

Cease-and-desist warnings were sent by the national association of citizens’ advice bureaux to MySpace and Xing, as well as to Facebook, requiring them to alter their data rules.

The association said the social networks must ensure that users had the sole power to expose their personal data to examination by third-party search engines or to delete such data.

It charged that the terms of service of some of the social networks forced users to surrender such rights.

“If the social networks don’t sign the cease-and-desist letter, we’ll take them to court,” said Carola Elbrecht, the association’s executive dealing with the topic.

The association has joined with 80 consumer groups in the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) in drafting demands for users to “always remain masters of their data”.

The TACD paper says, “If users cancel their membership, the stored data should be completely deleted. In cases in which the user wants to delete data, the social network operator should not put any obstacles in place.”