Facebook today said that it would sign a voluntary code of conduct in Germany to protect user data, reported Egypt.com. This is the first time that Facebook has agreed to a code of conduct on privacy in a security-sensitive nation like Germany.
Richard Allan, Facebook’s director of European public policy met with Germany’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and the site agreed to sign a voluntary self-regulation agreement that brought its policies more in like with German data protection laws. Freidrich said that self-regulation by companies with rich databases of customer information, like Facebook, is “especially important in the fast-moving domain of the Internet.”
Allan said that Facebook “support[s] this initiative towards self-regulation. It can be a very effective way to protect the interests of Internet users.”
This should help to improve Facebook’s reputation among privacy-conscious German officials, some of which have spoken out in recent months against what they perceive to be Facebook’s poor privacy controls. Last year, Germany’s Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner spoke out about Facebook’s desire to make even more of its users information publicly searchable.
Facebook isn’t alone when it comes to having to make changes to its service in order to do business in Germany either. Google was recently forced to halt its 3D mapping service and to blur out some 244,000 German houses from its Streetview database. And earlier this year, Google Analytics was targeted because it requires no ‘opt-in’ in order to track visitors to websites.
Germany isn’t the only country where Facebook features have caused privacy advocates to worry. The UAE prohibits people from taking or using photos of people without their permission, a law that was run afoul of by Facebook’s photo tagging service.
We have contacted Facebook for a statement about the signing and will update this post with a response, if forthcoming.