reactions_graphics.facebook, like, emoticon.png
Photograph: Ilustration

A German court ruled on Wednesday that the transfer of data by e-commerce websites to Facebook through the "Like" button without the knowledge of consumers infringes German and EU privacy laws.

The Consumer Advice Organization of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia sued two e-commerce websites it said transferred data to Facebook without consent by using "Like" buttons on their websites.

The court in Dusseldorf ruled that the companies will have to inform consumers on their website in future that clicking the "Like" button may cause their IP addresses to be transferred to Facebook.

The watchdog says the button is used by Facebook to install small bits of software on people's computers that can be used to compile a profile of their interests - irrespective of whether they have a Facebook account or not.

"No one knows what Facebook does with the data," said Sabine Petri, a lawyer for the consumer watchdog, after hearing the verdict.

The group originally sent cease-and-desist orders to six companies, two of which agreed to stop using the function. Two others are still in talks with the watchdog, and the remaining two were the subjects of the court case.

The function in question is a small thumbs-up symbol that can be placed by a company onto its own website and does not refer to the "Like" button used on Facebook itself to express interest in content.

The court's verdict could have repercussions for companies across Germany.

Facebook is already facing a probe in Germany, where the Federal Cartel Office, the country's competition watchdog, is looking into possible abuse of user data and violation of data protection laws.

Related stories

French authorities warn Facebook on data collection

Facebook ordered to delete Whatsapp data in Germany

Apple: Court must reverse "dangerous" FBI order

Latest news

EU anti-fraud office eyeing claims against Merkel challenger Schulz

Martin Schulz, the main contender against German Chancellor Angela Merkel in upcoming elections, could face a probe for advocating questionable bonuses and promotions while European Parliament president, the EU's anti-fraud office said Thursday.

EFA calls on Croatian state leadership to protect Croatian cinema

The European Film Academy, along with the 600 Croatian professionals who signed the manifesto of "We’ve Had Enough", expressed its belief in the importance of the independence of Croatian film, and in preserving the autonomy of the existing Croatian audio visual model and the continuity of current practices.

PSA chief: We want to keep Opel German

The head of French carmaker PSA Group, which last week revealed that it was in talks to buy Opel from General Motors, said that Opel should remain German if the deal goes through.

Bayern round the clock - German champions launch own TV channel

Bayern Munich fans will be able to follow goings on at the Bundesliga record champions in a new way from next week when the club launches its own television channel.

'Weather bomb' hits transport, cuts power to 56,000 homes in Ireland

Storm Doris brought winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour to large areas of Ireland and Britain on Thursday, disrupting transport links and causing power cuts to tens of thousands of homes.

Croatia's registered unemployment rate rises to 15.4% in January

The registered unemployment rate in Croatia rose from 14.8% in December 2016 to 15.4% in January 2017, increasing for the fourth month in a row, the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS) said Thursday.

Norway's telecom group Telenor to leave Indian market

Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor said Thursday it was leaving the Indian telecom market and transferring its businesses there to Bharti Airtel.

Iraq claims advance in retaking Mosul airport from Islamic State

Iraqi forces wrested back half of Mosul's airport from Islamic State Thursday, shortly after entering the facility during their ongoing campaign to drive the extremist militia from its last key stronghold in the country.

Rights group: Video shows Cambodian police beating election candidate

A video posted on YouTube shows eight Cambodian paramilitary police beating a man identified as an opposition candidate at a Phnom Penh shopping mall, a rights group said Thursday. 

Malaysia asks Interpol to issue alert for suspects in N Korean death

Malaysia on Thursday requested that Interpol issue an alert for four North Koreans suspected of involvement in last week's killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

British suspect arrested in Deutsche Telekom hacking

A 29-year-old British citizen suspected of involvement in a cyberattack that left nearly 1 million Deutsche Telekom customers without services last year has been arrested, German federal police said on Thursday.

Eight killed as bomb targets restaurant in Pakistan’s Lahore

A bomb ripped through a high-end restaurant in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Thursday, killing eight people, officials said, marking another attack amid a surge in violence by Islamist militants that has ended months of fragile calm.