In a decision that directly contradicted one reached by an earlier German court, the Higher Court of Berlin ruled this week that Facebook must comply with German privacy rules.
Germany has more strict data privacy laws than many other European nations, and the country has consistently challenged Facebook’s privacy practices. The German high court found that, since Facebook processed the data of German users in the United States, the site would be subject to German data protection laws. Facebook’s European home base is located in Ireland, a country that lacks the strong privacy laws of Germany and many other E.U. countries. The site has used Ireland as a way to gain a stronger foothold in Europe, though Germany’s ruling may set their strategy back.
“The verdict is a milestone for data protection in the Facebook era,” said the Federation of German Consumer Organizations.
The Europeans are indeed much more protective of their private data than Americans. German and French leaders have even recently met to discuss building their own private data network in order to avoid sending the information of European citizens overseas.
One shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.”