Posted January 21, 2008 6:23 pm by with 8 comments

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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.

  • Will google & Facebook be punished in UK?

  • Who knows? It seems the bigger a business gets, the more legal challenges it faces. I suppose the worst punishment would be if they prevented the acquisition from going ahead.

  • Xianhong, I personally doubt that such a point will be reached. As Catherine has mentioned, such legal issues are inevitable at a certain point for a company such as G but the issue will mos likely be solved without the need for extreme measures.

    Alan Johnson

  • Yeah this doesn’t sound good for G but I’m sure that they’ll pull something off in Google fashion as they’ve always done. It’s nice to hear that they don’t have free reign over the entire planet.

  • I think this will only be a minor bump in the road for G. They always seem to make out in the end.

  • I think it is quite ironic that anyone in power over here in the UK would make noises about privacy of information……bearing in mind that our Inland Revenue (equivalent of IRS) has recently lost discs containing child benefit data on millions of residents…..and the Ministry of Defence is frequently losing laptops from the back of service personnel vehicles!

  • Google always seems to prevail despite all the hurdles that are thrown at them. I would love to know who their attorneys are.

  • PS3

    Yeah, it would certainly be interesting to see if Google use just one firm, or different specialists.

    Blimey, what a fee earner that would be!