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Facebook 'like' data breaks EU law say Germans

Germans are being urged to dump Facebook and avoid tyhe 'like' button, by a data protection outfit convinced that the web site's harvesting of data is in contravention of EU and German laws.

Schleswig-Holstein's Independent Centre for Privacy Protection (ULD), claimed that Facebook sends personal data about users on third-part sites who click its 'like' button to servers in the U.S., in violation, it said of the German Telemedia Act, the Federal Data Protection Act and the Data Protection Act of Schleswig-Holstein.

"Whoever visits or uses a plug-in must expect that he or she will be tracked by the company for two years, the ULD notes. "Facebook builds a broad individual and, for member,s even a personalised profile. Such a profiling infringes German and European data protection law."

The outfit claims the wording in Facebook's conditions of use and privacy "does not nearly meet the legal requirements relevant for compliance of legal notice, privacy consent and general terms of use."

In a statement, Facebook rejected allegations that it is in violation of any E.U. data protection regulations.

"The Facebook Like button is such a popular feature because people have complete control over how their information is shared through it," the company asserted. "For more than a year, the plug-in has brought value to many businesses and individuals every day. We will review the materials produced by the ULD, both on our own behalf and on the behalf of web users throughout Germany."

Facebook's "Like" social plug-in appears on third-party websites as a means of allowing the page to be shared on Facebook at a single click. Facebook collects the IP address of the 'liker's' machine and the Facebook ID.

Facebook will then use that information to feed back to the site details on the users, such as gender, age range, location and bad habits.