The data protection authority for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein has declared business use of Facebook and Facebook "like" buttons illegal. All businesses in Schleswig-Holstein have until the end of the September 2011 to remove "like" buttons and close their Facebook pages.
Here's a quick summary of why. The full announcement is below.
1) Data is transmitted to the USA without proper notification to users. Lack of proper notification is illegal under European and German privacy laws.
2) Data is used to create online profiles and track people for 2 years. Creation of online profiles and cross-site tracking is illegal in Germany and under EU laws unless prior informed consent is given. Browser settings do not constitute informed consent.
3) Facebook's privacy statement and T&C's are vague, confusing, uninformative, and therefore illegal under German requirements. This means, even if you read and agreed, you still would not have given informed consent.
Their final comment: "Institutions must be aware that they cannot shift their responsibility for data privacy upon Facebook or the users."
Here is the entire text of the English-language announcement:
On August 11 Google changed how Google Analytics measures visits. This is a profound change which will fundamentally change the picture we have of most sites. Despite this being one of the most fundamental changes possible in any analytics system, Google have kept the change quiet and made every effort to downplay the impact. Almost every sites stats will change profoundly, even though nothing has changed on their site.
I recently recieved the following email from Intel's marketing people, see if you can spot the fatal error:
I am contacting you because you are registered for Intel’s...
No need to read more - the error is on the first line - "Dear NULL". I'm a NULL? Is that a comment on my importance? My value as a customer? If I could walk into an Intel shop would I be greeted with a cheerful "Howdy, Mr Insignificant Nobody"?
Ok - I'm being a little a little over the top, but it's such a glaring fault I had to discuss it.
Let's go through the series of errors and omissions required to achieve this (un)remarkable degree of (mis)targetting:
1) The person who wrote the email software had to consciously insert a command to say "insert First Name here." Neither they, their supervisor, or any of the testers thought about "what if we don't have a first name." Gee, why would you? Every marketing database is absolutely perfect, right? There's never any need to check for errors, is there? You never encounter a single item of data missing, do you? In addition, NULL is a logical data response, not actual data. You have to... Read more
The New York Times has reported that Google and Verizon are inking a deal whereby some Google sites, such as Youtube, will pay Verizon for priority transmission. In other words, Verizon will introduce a system whereby sites can be transmitted to Verizon subscribers at faster speeds than non-paying sites. Youtube is being cited as a likely user of this service.
This is an idea which has been around since the web started to get traffic congestion in 1995. At present all ISP's treat all site's equally, and bandwidth is allocated according to customer demand. This is called "network neutrality." It's a fairly fundamental aspect of ensuring the web is democratic and stops a few large corporations dominating everything. It means Joe's Fishing Blog gets the same treatment as Microsoft.com, and is a key reason why small sites (like Facebook) can grow so quickly into bigger ones (like Facebook), and why bloggers can be assured anyone who wants to can get to their site.
Some people, including the FCC, are very concerned that this may be the beginning of the end of the open web, but I think history will show this to be a dumb decision for Verizon. It's just another case... Read more
Facebook may be the world's first private totalitarian venture. It's widely recognized now that Zuckerberg, the founder and owner of Facebook, does not believe in privacy. In particular he doesn't believe people's personal and professional identities should be different, or that you should have "personas" - different faces for different situations.
In other words, you should make it plain to everyone at work and home exactly what you think of them, and that everyone at work should know exactly what you're like at home and vice versa.
I think this is a nasty form of totalitarianism which, if allowed to continue as far as he wants, would destroy society itself. Of course, society won't allow itself to be destroyed. Sooner or later, Zuckerberg will take a big fall.
The definition of totalitarianism is (thanks to Wikipedia):
"a system, usually under the control of a single person or group, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. Totalitarianism is generally characterised by the coincidence of authoritarianism (where ordinary citizens have no significant share in state decision-making) and ideology (a pervasive scheme of values promulgated by institutional means to direct most if not all aspects... Read more