The Independent Center for Privacy Protection (ULD), located in Schleswig-Holstein, a state in the north of Germany, has demanded that websites take down their Facebook pages, and that they eliminate any Facebook “like” buttons located on their websites.
The website owning businesses were given a deadline of September 1, 2011 by which to comply to this demand, or they will be required to pay fines as high as €50,000 (approximately $72,000).
Commissioner Thilo Weichert of the ULD in Schleswig-Holstein, stated that a plugin used by the social network, which permits its members to share their approval of a website’s contents, “illegally puts together a profile of their Web habits.”
The issue is that the plugins used by Facebook and the pages where a “like” button is offered enables the social network to track its users for up to two years, making a record of the interactions the users make with those web pages, as well as where they go after they leave that initial page, and what they do when they visit each of the pages.
According to a statement released by Weichart, several of the activities available through Facebook violate the laws in that country. He said that this has not stopped owners of websites from using those illegal Facebook services, and the number is growing as the features become easier to install and are free of charge.
Many website owners are worried that taking down the “like” buttons will give their competitors in other German states an unfair advantage, as those features are often a part of effective marketing strategies and the added traffic they generate will often lead to sales.