Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP of Communications and Public Policy, is currently in Berlin, Germany, according to a report by Press Democrat. There, he is in talks with Germany’s leading IT association, Bitkom, discussing the concerns of over 20 million German users regarding data privacy and security.
Bitkom describes itself as the voice of the information technology, telecommunications and new media industry, with over 1,350 companies represented in Germany. Facebook is apparently petitioning to join Bitkom as well, but is still waiting for application approval.
The social media giant agreed last month to more self-regulation concerning data privacy and young users in Germany, following complaints it fails to comply with strict German privacy laws.
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Schrage states, “Facebook takes its commitment to its German users very seriously and aims to work toward improved regulation and self-regulation.”
It’s interesting to see Facebook making such a public statement about privacy and data security, as recent reports have revealed that many feel the social networking super giant is failing in these areas. Lawyers in both Kansas and Mississippi, for example, have recently sued Facebook in a class action lawsuit representing the 150 million US citizens using the platform over what they believe is a violation of Wiretap Laws. The suits both state that Facebook is tracking the online activity of its users even after they’ve logged off the platform, distressing those obviously concerned with privacy and personal security.
We can even go so far back as earlier May of this year, where Facebook was sued for allowing children to “Like” products on the platform. And we all know how the FTC feels about children’s online privacy, yikes.
Then there’s Spotify, Facebook’s recently-acquired shining star in music sharing, which has yet to open up to German markets — though most likely due to licensing issues. But as our Hamburg resident Michael Backes states, “People in Germany want social, but they don’t want to share.” Now with forced Facebook integration, the battle for Spotify in Germany has become that much harder.
What do you think? Will Facebook be able to join Bitkom, given its rather shaky reputation when it comes to online privacy? What sort of hurdles do you think it’s jumping through in order to secure the partnership? Weigh in below.