Google & Facebook See European Trouble

    January 21, 2008

Google and Facebook, sweethearts of the Internet who would never face legal challenges on this side of the Atlantic, are both looking at legal troubles in Europe.

Facebook is facing a privacy probe in the UK, according to the BBC. The issue at hand is the fact that Facebook retains personal information about a user even after a user terminates his or her account.

Facebook acknowledges the practice in their Privacy Policy (emphasis added):

Access and control over most personal information on Facebook is readily available through the profile editing tools. Facebook users may modify or delete any of their profile information at any time by logging into their account. Information will be updated immediately. Individuals who wish to deactivate their Facebook account may do so on the My Account page. Removed information may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time but will not be generally available to members of Facebook.

Information Commissioner’sOffice Senior Data Protection Practice Manager Dave Evans “said it was the clarity of information users receive on signing up with social networking sites that is the central concern of the ICO.” If that’s the case, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem here.

Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, finally approved by the FTC last month, is still under review by the European Union, MediaPost reports. The EU’s approval is necessary for the deal to go through.

While four of the five FTC commissioners approved the GoogleClick deal, the EU has summoned FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour, the only member of the commission to vote against the deal, as well as Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center Marc Rotenberg.

If this “witness” list is complete (though I’m sure it’s not), it doesn’t sound good for the pending acquisition.