VIENNA (Reuters) – An Austrian student group plans to go to court in a bid to make Facebook Inc, the world’s biggest social network, do more to protect the privacy of its hundreds of millions of members.
Privacy campaign group europe-v-facebook, which has been lobbying for better data protection by Facebook for over a year, said on Tuesday it planned to go to court to appeal against decisions by the data protection regulator in Ireland, where Facebook has its international headquarters.
The move is one of a number of campaigns against the giants of the internet, which are under pressure from investors to generate more revenue from their huge user bases but which also face criticism for storing and sharing personal information.
Europe-v-facebook has won some concessions from Facebook, notably pushing it to switch off its facial recognition feature in Europe.
But the group said on Tuesday the changes did not go far enough and it was disappointed with the response of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, which had carried out an audit after the campaign group filed numerous complaints.
“The Irish obviously have no great political interest in going up against these companies because they’re so dependent on the jobs they c! reate,” europe-v-facebook founder Max Schrems told Reuters.
Gary Davies, Ireland’s deputy data protection commissioner, denied Facebook’s investment in Ireland had influenced regulation of the company.
“We have handled this in a highly professional and focused way and we have brought about huge changes in the way Facebook handles personal data,” he told Reuters.
Schrems, who has filed 22 complaints with the Irish regulator, said more than 40,000 Facebook users who had requested a copy of the data Facebook was holding on them had not received anything several months after making a request.
The law student also questioned why Facebook had only switched off facial recognition for users in the European Union, even though Ireland is the headquarters for all of Facebook’s users outside the United States and Canada.
Facebook is under pressure to reverse a trend of slowing revenue growth by selling more valuable advertising, which requires better profiling of its users.
Investors are losing patience with the social network, whose shares have dropped 40 percent in value since the company’s record-breaking $104 billion initial public offering in May.
Last month, Facebook proposed to combine its user data with that of its recently acquired photo-sharing service Instagram, loosen restrictions on emails between its members and share data with other businesses and affiliates that it owns.
Facebook is also facing a class-action lawsuit in the United States, where it is charged with violating privacy rights by publicizing users’ “likes” without giving them a way to opt out.
A U.S. judge late on Monday gave his preliminary approval to a second attem! pt to se ttle the case by paying users up to $10 each out of a settlement fund of $20 million.
Ireland also hosts the European headquarters of other high-tech firms including Microsoft and Google thanks to generous tax breaks.
Europe-v-facebook said it believed its Irish lawsuit had the potential to become a test case for data protection law and had a good chance of landing up in the European Court of Justice.
Schrems said the case could cost the group around 100,000 euros ($130,000), which it hoped to raise via crowd-funding – money provided by a collection of individuals – on the Internet.
(Additional reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin; Editing by Mark Potter)
(This story was corrected to fix the headline, lead and the first paragraph to show that the campaign group plans to sue Irish regulator, not Facebook, in the first instance)
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The Kronen Zeitung is Austria’s largest newspaper, with a daily readership of around three million people. Yesterday, those readers were treated to the image on the left of war-torn Aleppo, bombed out and desperate. Except, as one sharp-eyed Redditor points out, that wasn’t the scene at all. It was just another Photoshop job.
Just to be clear, the family in the photograph is, in fact, in Syria; the original photo (on the right) came from the European Pressphoto Agency. But merely fleeing a city ravaged by guns and mortars apparently isn’t quite dramatic enough on its own. The editors of the Krone—as it’s commonly called—needed this baby to sing.
Using Photoshop to make actresses and models look unrealistically attractive is bad enough. Using it to make a part of the world that has enough problems as it is look even more apocalyptic? That’s just disgraceful. [Facebook via Reddit]
While there have been plenty of terrifyingly realistic card skimmers in the past, we have bad news for you: the latest breed of skimmers are so thin that they’re inserted into the ATM, so you can’t see them at all.
Krebs on Security rounds up a handful or recent reports, and the news makes for grim reading. According to the European ATM Security Team, the latest ATM skimmers are in fact wafer-thin card reading devices, which are inserted up inside the card acceptance slots of cash machines. You can’t even see they’re there.
Of course, the good news is that these kinds of insert skimmers need to be able to record your PIN as you type it in—and that requires some secondary recording device. Usually that’s a keypad overlay, or a tiny camera, so there are still clues to look out for as you take out your cash.
So, the advice remains the same: if anything ever looks suspicious at an ATM, don’t use it. It’s just annoying that spotting the problem is getting more and more difficult. [EAST via Krebs on Security]
Images by Catatronic and EAST
Sovereign debt and banking issues aside, the economy of Europe still looks like it must be in recession.
Every country has reported a sub-50 PMI today.
This map from Markit is fantastic.
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