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Germany top court rules Facebook 'friend finder' tool unlawful

[JURIST] Germany's Federal Court of Justice [official website, in German] ruled [press release, in German] Thursday that a Facebook [corporate website] feature is unlawful. Confirming two lower court decisions, the court ruled that Facebook's "friend finder" feature constitutes advertising harassment. The lawsuit was filed in 2010 when the Federation of German Consumer Organisations [official website] challenged whether Facebook breached German consumer protection law by sending e-mails to consumers without theit consent. Individuals who agree to Facebook's terms and conditions give permission for Facebook to search their contact book and send messages inviting users' friends who have not signed up for Facebook to do so. The federal court determined [Reuters report] that Facebook "had not adequately informed members about how it was using their contacts' data" and concluded that this was a deceptive marketing practice that violated German laws on data protection and unfair trade practices.

Facebook has faced numerous legal challenges across the globe. In November Belgium's Court of First Instance ordered Facebook to cease all tracking [JURIST report] of users within the country who have not signed up for the social networking platform. In October the European Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that EU user data transferred to the US by various technology companies, including Facebook, is not sufficiently protected. In December 2014 Facebook failed to dismiss a lawsuit [JURIST report] that claimed it scanned users' private messages for the names of websites for targeted advertising purposes. In May 2014 an Iranian judge ordered [JURIST report] Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear in court regarding allegation that certain Facebook apps violated user privacy.

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