German officials latest to challenge Facebook

Data protection officials in Germany announced Wednesday the launch of a formal investigation into Facebook, saying they believe some of its much-maligned privacy policies are illegal. It's given Facebook until August 11 to respond formally.

The news was originally reported by the Associated Press; Facebook public policy spokesman Andrew Noyes confirmed the investigation on Wednesday. "Facebook has received a letter from the Hamburg Data Protection Officer," a statement read. "We are currently reviewing it and will readily respond to it within the given timeframe. Millions of Germans come to Facebook each day to find their friends, share information with them and connect to the world around them."

Like a high-profile investigation last year on behalf of Canadian privacy authorities, the German probe into Facebook focuses on the amount of member data that is stored and for how long. But the angle that the German investigation takes is slightly different. The officials' primary concern here is that Facebook is also collecting data on nonmembers who aren't registered for the site and consequently haven't granted Facebook any kind of explicit permissions when they navigate to the site's growing amount of public content. (Facebook used to be housed entirely behind a log-in wall.)

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-20009886-36.html

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