Many of our clients operate Facebook pages for their company. So far, so good – where is the problem?
Companies who operate their own fan pages on Facebook are currently operating in a legal grey zone in Germany. As far back as November 2011, the “Unabhängiges Landeszentrum für Datenschutz Schleswig-Holstein” (Independent State Centre for Data Protection Schleswig-Holstein) decreed that companies – under threat of a penalty of EUR 50,000.00 – should deactivate their fan pages on Facebook so that they can no longer be accessed publicly. This affected many companies in Schleswig-Holstein. The reason given by the State Data Protection Officer was that Facebook collects user data for advertising purposes and draws up a user profile without observing the German data protection regulations. Companies that use Facebook and operate a fan page for their company are therefore jointly responsible for any data protection violations.
So today we eagerly awaited the judgement by the Schleswig Administrative Court, which had had to deal with the test cases of three companies affected by this decree of the State Data Protection Officer Schleswig-Holstein. Meanwhile, the decision has been announced:
In the court’s opinion, the companies filing suit are not responsible for possible data protection violations by Facebook and may therefore continue to operate their Facebook pages. The Schleswig Administrative Court contradicted the legal opinion of the State Data Protection Officer at least to the extent that the companies are in fact not responsible for possible data protection violations by Facebook. The affected companies may (at any rate for now) continue to operate their Facebook pages. However, an appeal against the decision was permitted.
It remains exciting!