Google Inc (GOOG) & Facebook Inc (FB) In Privacy Row With Germany

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Both Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) have faced thousands of inquiries into the protection of users privacy over the years. They are a logical target given the amount of user data they collect, use, and save each day. Google is presently facing a coordinated effort by six separate privacy commissioners who believe the U.S. based companies are not in compliance with Europe’s more stringent privacy protection policies.

Google Inc (GOOG) & Facebook Inc (FB) In Privacy Row With Germany

Experience has shown that “Google will keep making attempts to delay investigations through continuous correspondence and always freshly packaged arguments,” Peter Schaar, Germany’s federal data protection commissioner, said in a report yesterday. This came on the heels of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) being labeled “impertinent” by Thilo Weichert, the privacy regulator for the German state of Schleswig- Holstein.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has not flown under the radar regarding privacy either. Last year saw the company being forced to delay the implementation of facial recognition software into its platform. The software would have allowed Facebook to create a database of users faces from the  photos they post. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was subjected to an Irish privacy audit because that is where their European headquarters are located.

A German appeals court this week rejected a bid by Weichert’s agency to force Facebook to allow users to register under pseudonyms. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been waging an aggressive battle against users using pseudonyms in the last years. German officials argued that failing to allow fictional accounts was a violation of free speech laws though the court disagreed saying that Facebook’s base in Ireland allowed them to be held to the lower standards of privacy protection.

“We’re seeking to have a constructive dialogue with all groups, also with our greatest critics,” Facebook said in a statement. “Dialogue means: one shouldn’t just talk about Facebook, but also with Facebook. Facebook maintains that it is simply being demonized and that the size of the company is the real reason it is forced to justify its practices as often as it has.”

After recently changing its privacy policy, not unlike Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has also placed themselves under the microscope of European privacy officials.

“In updating the Microsoft Services Agreement we did not change our privacy policy,” said Robin Koch, a spokesman for Microsoft in Brussels. “We are confident they will find Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s long-standing commitment to privacy has not changed.”

Those investigations are expected to last through the summer.

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