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Facebook policies challenged by German data protection office

German newswires report that that some of the policies may be illegal under the country's laws and have given the US social networking portal just over a month to formally respond.

The BBC, meanwhile, quotes Johannes Caspar, head of the German data protection authority in Hamburg as saying that "we consider the saving of data from third parties, in this context, to be against data privacy laws."

Herr Caspar told the BBC that he had received a number of complaints from people who had not signed up to Facebook, "but whose details had been added to the site by friends" and he accused Facebook of saving the private data of non-members without their permission.

Facebook has reportedly responded to the allegations saying that it is reviewing the compliant and will respond in the required timeframe.

Infosecurity notes that, whilst Facebook has more than half a billion users around the world, it is reportedly only the fourth largest social networking portal in Germany, mainly because there are several local language sites and services in the country.

The BBC, meanwhile, has quoted John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog as saying that privacy laws are much stronger in Europe than in the UK and that "privacy is viewed as a consumer protection issue as opposed to a fundamental human right"

"We see that a number of Silicon Valley companies don't really understand how seriously privacy issues are taken in Europe and they will continue to run afoul of data protection laws there. I also think there is a growing reaction in the US that we should beef up our privacy laws along the lines of those in Europe", he told the BBC newsdesk.

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