Friday, June 4, 2010

Aigner unfriends Facebook

German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner said Thursday she was deleting her Facebook account in protest because the social networking site's new privacy settings announced last week do not go far enough.

"I will end my membership," Aigner told a news conference after talks with Facebook's policy director for Europe, Richard Allan, in Berlin. "First I have to inform all my 'friends' ... but it will happen very soon."

"My talks today with the Facebook executive unfortunately confirmed my scepticism. Many data privacy settings really have been improved, or are being improved, and improvements are due to follow.

"But from today's point of view the improvements at the end of the day are no way near sufficient to protect the users' privacy or to comply with German law."

She said that Germany's data protection agency was examining the settings and that she believed Facebook, which has 400 million users worldwide, could find itself slapped with fines in Europe's most populous country.

Aigner, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Bavarian allies, had already threatened such a move in April in an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. That came after Facebook sparked criticism from privacy groups and US and European lawmakers by allowing partner websites to use members' data.

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