1) Are the european data protection laws "perfect" or reasonable? No, they can't be, the most relevant directive is from the year 1995.
2) Do Google or Facebook comply with the European data protection standard? No way. Do they even try? No. There is something called the "Safe Harbor Directive" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe_Harbor_Principles) which Facebook and Google have declared to uphold. However they "self-certify" and in reality it is more like a "scam". For example Facebook is boasting about a "TRUSTe" certificate, which is practically a joke.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRUSTe)
(That is, the book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas Hofstadter)
An American woman visiting Berlin - intent on hearing Bismarck speak - obtained two tickets for the Reichstag visitors' gallery and enlisted an interpreter to accompany her.
Soon after their arrival, Bismarck rose and began to speak. The interpreter, however, simply sat listening with intense concentration. The woman, anxious for him to begin translating, nudged and budged him, to no avail.
Finally, unable to control herself any longer, the woman burst out: "What is he saying!?" "Patience, madam," the interpreter replied. "I am waiting for the verb."
Yes, it is. But, while we're off topic, I have to say I really like how in German, words are generally spelled like they are spoken.
(I was once fluent, but I don't use it enough, so have forgotten most of it. I can understand it very well still and it does, at least partially, come back to me when I visit Germany, thankfully)
In general mastering German is harder than mastering French for an English speaker, despite them being linguistically quite similar. German has retained a lot of features that have been stripped out in various degrees in other Germanic languages, most radically in English, that are difficult for English speakers (case system, almost totally irregular plurals, irregular genders, irregular past participles, irregular usage of "haben" and "sein" in construction of compound tenses and so on).
(I'm an American that's lived in Germany for almost 10 years.)
I've heard lots of people say this. I don't know any French, so can't comment.
I guess I don't notice the letter differences so much. I suppose having German family corrupted my sense of how letters are pronounced ;-)
As for "eu" and "äu", could this be a thing similar to "ss" vs "ß"? In any case, when reading German, I don't find these pairs a problem. Of course when writing German, they obviously are, so I stand corrected on this, though I did say "generally" and not "always". As others have commented, its probably a one-way thing: reading is definitely much much easier than writing.
for instance I live in "Treptow", which is pronounced as it would be in English, not with a "v" sound on the end
Place names don't seem have as regular pronunciation as normal words.
I never actually learned to speak German, did learn French (can speak it fine, with a very English accent). Slightly odd situation though, I was taught to pronounce German extremely authentically (former professional singer), and didn't found it harder to learn German pronunciation than French.
That said I love the German language, some day when I can be bothered I really do want to learn it; can't quite put into words why I love it, but there's something weirdly special about it. Maybe just because of associations I have with it and certain music, like Bach's St John's Passion.
Compare and contrast to English pronunciation of things like:
etc/usw... Quite a disparity between the lot of words despite their similarity.
Sorry for the thread derailment, i'll go sit in the corner and think about my life.
How did you learn to speak German?
I originally learnt as a kid, having German family, and actually spoke German before I spoke English, but living in Ireland, I obviously needed English more, so we exclusively spoke English since I started school. I've always known enough German to understand spoken (and make out written) German, but speaking it myself was more difficult (and writing even more so), but mostly because I forget words, rather than not knowing the rules or pronunciations. When I learnt German in school, I was pretty much fluent and non-Germans found it difficult to realize that English was my main language when I spoke German, but I've forgotten most of it due to disuse. I really should relearn it...
I'm also a big fan of how few tenses are used colloquially--for instance, very few people actually use the future tense. You just have to add a time ("tomorrow", "in 2 years", etc.) to qualify a sentence as referring to the future.
We have threads for a reason.
He would have to convince his fifteen colleagues to make this a Germany-wide thing. Handling this on the federal level is not even possible in Germany, the federal data protection appointee has nothing to say about such matters.
It would only take someone to go to their local data protection supervisor (Datenschutzbeauftragten) and complain about being tracked by the facebook like button on a site hosted in germany, the data protection supervisor would have to issue a fine (if he agrees with that interpretation of the law) and it would go to court, since the owner of the website would naturally dispute it.
Difficult to say how the court would rule.
The laws are not (only) enforced by the police but by specialized offices – just like tax law (with the tax office and tax investigators) or food law (with food inspectors).
This is like the police (which is organized in a similar way) in Bavaria deciding to enforce a federal law in a certain way. Whatever the police in Bavaria decides to do doesn’t have to have any consequences for the police in other states. (Suffice it to say, the police in other states isn’t going to be very happy when they hear about the Bavarian police interpreting a law in an odd way.)
It’s the courts that have to decide in the end what is correct and incorrect enforcement.
If nobody ever speaks up and says "Hey, hang on - how much info are we giving them, really?" it'd be far too easy for companies to take advantage..
Having said that ... this won't stick. By this virtue, sites would have to remove G+ buttons too, and Google Analytics (which profiles 'anonymous' users even more heavily than FB)
For example, I never asked for Google Streetview to photograph my property, so in that sense they might have violated my privacy.
But clicking a Like! button is like giving implicit approval to send some relevant data to Facebook.
If you were a German Facebook fan, would this law make it impossible to place a Like! button on your own site, when you and your visitors clearly want it?
Is it possible to voluntarily wave away the right to privacy or is it really an all-or-nothing deal?
Edit: It seems that you get logged without ever clicking the button, or lack a Facebook account...
The paper "Facebook Tracks and Traces Everyone: Like This!" mentions 3 valid privacy violations by Facebook.
informational self-determination: the individual should
be able to decide which data are disclosed to whom and
for what purpose.
contextual integrity: data has to be treated according to
the norms applicable to the context in which
the data was disclosed.
data transfer without consent: data should not be
transferred to another context without the individual's
[the Like button] is also used to place cookies on the
user’s computer, regardless whether a user actually uses
the button when visiting a website. As an alternative
business model this allows Facebook to track and trace
users and to process their data. It appears that
non-Facebook members can also be traced via the Like
Ah, well. Back to a custom Facebook Share button for me.
However the European data protection standard demands "informed consent", the user needs to be able to understand the scope of his own decision:
Which data is captured and to what purpose? Do third parties get access, to what purpose? To which countries does data get sent and what are the risks associated with it? Will your data be possibly combined with data from other sources to build a more complete profile?
At the present moment, there is in fact no real solution to use the Facebook-Like button in Germany in a way that is compliant with data protection law. At least I couldn't finde one when I had to write a "memo" for a law firm. However it is somewhat possible to shield the owner of the website from liability.
I don't think privacy should be an 'all-or-nothing' proposition; waving away your right to privacy should not be a decision an individual has to make. Ever.
I believe that what the majority of users want when interacting with internet platforms like Google, Facebook, etc. is a responsible use of their data; a reasonable balance between giving up information and receiving benefits in exchange.
From that perspective I would argue that Facebook collecting data from you simply by 'browsing-by' a like button is unacceptable. But I wouldn't go as far as to say that everything is fair after you've given alleged, implicit permission by clicking a button either. It's about a reasonable expectation the user has about what kind of terms he's entering into by 'like-ing' something. Is it okay for Facebook to have a look at what site your coming form? Associate your account with this like? Maybe. Would it be acceptable for Facebook to go through your history and look at the most recent porn sites you showed interest in? Probably not. That goes at the notion of contextual integrity you mentioned. The line is blurry but it certainly exists.
Another important consideration for me is who has access to the data that is collected. Larry Page famously answered to Paul Buchheit that there 'are no privacy issues' when faced with thousands of complaints concerning Gmail. I don't really mind machines going over the contents of my email in an effort to target ads at me. It's creppy to some but if you understand the underlying technology I would side with Larry and say that, really, there are no privacy violations. It's about the trust you have in a corporation when it comes to handling your data. Transparency goes a long way.
Give me your thoughts.
P.S: I don't think an individual or a corporation could successfully operate on the internet while strictly adhering to the three standards you mention. Getting explicit consent for every data transaction that occurs when using the internet would make that medium virtually unusable. We have to make certain, maybe gullible, assumptions about the companies and individuals we interact with to navigate everyday life; you do it every time you enter into a contract without studying the fine print.
A custom Facebook Share button sounds like a terrific idea, open-source it! :)
There are few politicians anywhere who do understand the internet.
Germany's actions are the right thing to do.
Laws like that give people a false sense of privacy. House is still visible from the street and private info can still be tracked online.
Privacy advocate should focus on education and making sure it's explained what is shared with who. If it's clear what you're sharing by signing up to a service and everyone understand what that means we would all be better off.
If I was hosting a site in Germany, I'd probably tend to switch hosting before I removed the "Like" button from my website.
I hope so. Subjecting users to tracking by Google without their consent (you have no way to know that website X is tracking before it does) seems very abusive to me. Nothing prevents webmasters from installing tracking software on their own servers.
However, I've never heard of someone paying this fine.
I am german myself and fully agree with the privacy enforcing people in Germany and EU. Everytime you visit a website where someone added a Like button a whole set of tracking data will be submitted to US servers without a chance for me to forbid this. (Never saw a message "Is it ok for you that I load the Facebook Like button where your data will be transmitted to Facebook?") And after Facebook has a nearly complete profile over my web activities (every 2nd page already has a Like button) practically the US government also has all those data (edit: for fairness: everyone who pays for the data too)
Edit: Man, I sure have offended a lot of people. I really didn't mean to make it seem like you're insignificant, or that the decisions you make are ridiculous and not well thought out when it comes to the Web. I think you guys are doing a great job!
Keep up all this good work and maybe one day we'll relinquish our control of the root name servers over to you.
Whats cute is Americans who think regulating business is something we should never do and privacy laws are bullshit. Sorry, but it looks like the rest of the world isn't so lassiz-faire.
The same argument they are using against these buttons applies to off-site hyperlinks in general. Are those going to be banned in the name of privacy?
So yes, there are major legitimate privacy concerns about this. I'd hope you weren't aware of this, otherwise this would be an incredibly disingenuous argument to make.
It is capable of tracking both logged-in Facebook users and even users that don't have a Facebook account. It sets a cookie without you clicking it.
Scenario: The web user does not have a Facebook account
after visiting a web site on which Facebook Connect has
been implemented, the request for the Like button
includes a cookie. This cookie has an expiration date two
years from the moment it was issued. However, by browsing
across web sites, additional cookies can be placed on the
user's computer and these can be added later on in new