You know something has gone horribly wrong when it’s the Germans who are standing up to defend our privacy. Then again they’ve kind of got good reason to be touchy about the whole “spying on people” thing.
Anyway. Germany has officially told Facebook that its creepy-ass facial recognition software violates German law, so they have to destroy the database. Well, at least the German part.
Germany started investigating Facebook over the practice in June 2011, suspending the investigation in June of this year after failing to convince Facebook to change its practices. But the German data protection commission reopened the investigation today, demanding that Facebook “destroy its photographic database of faces collected in Germany and revise its Web site to obtain the explicit consent of users before it creates a digital file based on the biometric data of their faces,”
So why should you care? Because Facebook is arguing that it doesn’t have to abide by Germany’s laws since the data doesn’t stay within German borders. If you don’t understand just how incredibly troubling this is, consider that the US has fairly strong privacy protections in place. Facebook can’t demand our data from us: We give it to the site voluntarily. Now imagine it sets up shop somewhere with a crappier human rights record, like Russia or China.
Granted that US law is not German law, and precedents set in the EU don’t apply across the world. But it’s still pretty troubling that Facebook’s argument boils down to “nuh-uh, don’t wanna!”
(Pic via Shutterstock)