Facebook's 'Like' Button Banned by German State

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The German State of Schleswig-Holstein has ordered all state sites to remove Facebook's "like" button. Sites that fail to comply could face fines of up to 50,000 euros, or about $72,000.

Schleswig-Holstein's data protection commissioner, Thilo Weicher, ordered the shutdown after an analysis by his office showed that Facebook builds profiles of users and non-users alike with the "like" button's data. Because such data collection violates Germany's data protection laws, Weicher has given websites operated in Schleswig-Holstein until September 30th to remove all "like" buttons.

Facebook has issued its own statement in response to Weicher's claims. The company has denied Weicher's claims and insists that the "like" button is compliant with European Union data protections standards. According to Facebook, the "like" button only collects the IP addresses of non-users, and even that information is deleted after 90 days.

The European Union--and Germany in particular--has much stricter online privacy laws than does the United States. In fact, this isn't the first time Facebook has clashed with Germany's strict privacy laws--earlier this month, German authorities in Hamburg asked the social networking giant to shut down its facial recognition feature. The EU advisory board also announced it would be looking into Facebook's facial recognition feature, and any EU privacy laws such a feature might violate.

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