German court rules that Facebook like button is breaking the law

Facebook ‘like’ buttons on commercial websites break German law if users are not warned that their personal data is being shared, a court ruled on Wednesday. This ruling issued by Dusseldorf district court may come as a dampener for Facebook which has just launched its reaction buttons instead of Likes.

The ruling came in the matter of a shopping website using the Facebook Like button on its website. The court banned has banned it from using the Like function on its pages if it did not first warn customers their data was being recorded. The retailer will now be forced to warn users that ‘liking’ the site on Facebook grants permission for the company to log their IP address.

The Fashion ID site, run by the Peek & Cloppenburg brand, was warned that it could be fined 250,000 euros ($275,000) for every breach of the order, seen by AFP.



However, the ruling may have a far reaching impact on the way Facebook Likes are incorporated by websites operating in Germany. “A mere link to a data protection statement at the foot of the website does not constitute an indication that data are being or are about to be processed,” the court said. The ruling may have implications in other European countries as well.

Fashion ID was taken to court by consumer organization Verbraucherzentrale who accused the site of failing to adhere to Germany’s data protection laws.

A Facebook spokesman responded to Wednesday’s ruling, “This case is specific to a particular website and the way they have sought consent from their users in the past. The ‘Like’ button, like many other features that are used to enhance websites, is an accepted, legal and important part of the Internet, and this ruling does not change that.”