Facebook fined €100,000 for German consumer law breach

The Facebook app as seen on a smartphone in somebody's pocket

Facebook has been fined 100,000 by a German court over its refusal to comply with consumer law, Reuters reports.

The social network was ordered to change its terms and conditions for German users in March 2012, after a complaint from the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV).

According to the complaint, it was unclear how much the site's terms allowed the company to license users' pictures and video to third parties.

The terms of use state that the social network can "use any IP (intellectual property) content that you post on or in connection with Facebook".

Although Facebook has now changed the wording of the relevant passage, the court said it had not done enough to clarify the issue, and that the core content remained the same.

"Facebook is persistently trying to evade consumer laws in Germany and Europe," VZBV chief Klaus Mueller said in a statement. "Companies must implement judicial decisions and can't simply sit them out."

The company maintains that the recent ruling was based on the speed of the changes, however, rather than the content.

"We complied with the order to clarify a single provision in our terms concerning an IP license a while ago," a Facebook spokesperson said. "The court felt we did not update our terms quickly enough and has issued a fine, which we will pay."

This is not the first time Facebook has faced the wrath of European courts, and has previously been accused of breaching EU law with its privacy policy.

In France, the company is facing legal repercussions for similar concerns, and was recently given three months to set the issues right.

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.