German official calls for presidency our bodies to shut Fb pages
The German data protection officer has asked all government agencies to remove their Facebook pages by the end of the year, as the social media giant is not complying with German and European data protection laws.
Commissioner Ulrich Kelber recently informed the German authorities in a letter that the almost two-year negotiations with Facebook have made no progress and that the organizations’ pages on the platform therefore do not comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The move comes as European regulators put pressure on big tech. After similar investigations on Facebook, Google and Amazon, the German antitrust authorities launched an investigation against Apple last week.
Earlier this month, the European Court of Justice ruled that data protection officers in every EU country can, under certain circumstances, enforce the GDPR against one company alone.
Kelber said he will also start looking into social media apps like Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, as well as the TikTok video app and the Clubhouse audio platform. He advised authorities to remove accounts from these sites due to similar privacy concerns.
EU law stipulates that personal data can only enter jurisdictions with equally strict data protection laws, and the US does not meet these standards. It is currently not possible to prevent personal data from Facebook page followers from being transmitted to the USA, said Kelber.
In October 2019, Facebook provided a supplement on data transparency and processing, but Kelber said it did not comply with German federal and state data protection guidelines. The US company has not given any further guarantees.
“From my point of view, this shows that Facebook is not ready to change its data processing,” he said. “From January 2022 I intend – in the interests of the citizens concerned – to gradually take advantage of the remedial measures available to me in accordance with Art. 58 GDPR.”
Government offices have argued that at a time when fewer people are relying on formal media for information, such sites are vital to obtaining information and increasingly turning to social media. Kelber said he initially refrained from requesting page removal because of these concerns, but said it was contingent on continued negotiations. He no longer believes that such conversations have “recognizable prospects for success”.
Facebook said: “At the end of 2019 we updated the Page Insights Supplement to clarify the responsibility of Facebook and the site operators. . . It is important to us that government authorities can also use Facebook pages to communicate with people on our platform in compliance with data protection regulations. “
Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Angela Merkel’s government, said in a press conference on Wednesday that the commissioner’s assessment would be examined, but declined to comment.
Authorities have a “role model” in terms of data protection, added Seibert. “I therefore see you as having a special obligation to behave in accordance with data protection regulations.”