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Facebook personal data use and privacy settings ruled illegal by German court | Technology

The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent.
Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook’s default privacy settings and use of personal data are against German consumer law, according to a judgement handed down by a Berlin regional court.

The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent. The federation of German consumer organisations (VZBV), which brought the suit, argued that Facebook opted users in to features which it should not have.

Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the VZBV, said: “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.”

In a statement, VZBV elaborated on some of its issues: “In the Facebook app for smartphones, for example, a location service was pre-activated that reveals a user’s location to people they are chatting to.

“In the privacy settings, ticks were already placed in boxes that allowed search engines to link to the user’s timeline. This meant that anyone could quickly and easily find personal Facebook profiles.”

The Berlin court agreed with VZBV that the five default settings the group had complained about were invalid as declarations of consent. The German language judgment was handed down in mid-January, but only publicly revealed on Monday.

The court also ruled eight clauses in Facebook’s terms of service to be invalid, including terms that allow Facebook to transmit data to the US and use personal data for commercial purposes. The company’s “authentic name” policy – a revision of a rule that once required users to use their “real names” on the site, but which now allows them to use any names they are widely known by – was also ruled unlawful.

In a statement, Facebook said it would appeal, adding: “We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law.”

A week after the Berlin court ruled against Facebook, the social network promised to radically overhaul its privacy settings, saying the work would prepare it for the introduction in Europe of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a sweeping set of laws governing data use across the EU.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, announced the changes, saying they would “put the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for people to manage their data”.

The European Union’s new stronger, unified data protection laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will come into force on 25 May 2018, after more than six years in the making.

GDPR will replace the current patchwork of national data protection laws, give data regulators greater powers to fine, make it easier for companies with a “one-stop-shop” for operating across the whole of the EU, and create a new pan-European data regulator called the European Data Protection Board.

The new laws govern the processing and storage of EU citizens’ data, both that given to and observed by companies about people, whether or not the company has operations in the EU. They state that data protection should be both by design and default in any operation.

GDPR will refine and enshrine the “right to be forgotten” laws as the “right to erasure”, and give EU citizens the right to data portability, meaning they can take data from one organisation and give it to another. It will also bolster the requirement for explicit and informed consent before data is processed, and ensure that it can be withdrawn at any time.

To ensure companies comply, GDPR also gives data regulators the power to fine up to €20m or 4% of annual global turnover, which is several orders of magnitude larger than previous possible fines. Data breaches must be reported within 72 hours to a data regulator, and affected individuals must be notified unless the data stolen is unreadable, ie strongly encrypted.

Facebook has faced repeated attacks from European regulators, particularly those in Germany, over issues ranging from perceived anti-competitive practices to alleged misuse of customer data.

Since March 2016, the company has been investigated by the German Federal Cartel Office over allegations it breaches data protection law in order to support an unfair monopoly. In an interim update in December last year, the office said that it objected to the way Facebook gains access to third-party data when an account is opened. This includes transferring information from its own WhatsApp and Instagram products – as well as how it tracks which sites its users access.

In October, Facebook was the target of an EU-wide investigation over a similar issue. The Article 29 Working Party (WP29), which oversees data regulation issues across the European Union, launched a taskforce to examine the sharing of user data between WhatsApp and Facebook, which it says does not have sufficient user consent. When the data sharing feature was first announced in 2016, the group warned Facebook that it may not be legal under European law, prompting the company to pause the data transfer until a resolution was found.

“Whilst the WP29 notes there is a balance to be struck between presenting the user with too much information and not enough, the initial screen made no mention at all of the key information users needed to make an informed choice, namely that clicking the agree button would result in their personal data being shared with the Facebook family of companies,” the group told WhatsApp in October.

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Best Mid Range Smartphone

The best mid range Smartphone phone of 2018 reviewed and rated

What constitutes as the best ‘mid-range’ phone has changed rather dramatically in recent years. With flagship phones like the iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comfortably pushing passed the £1000 mark, from a price perspective the goalposts have undoubtedly shifted in the same direction. So here are a comprehensive list of Best Mid Range Smartphone , click on the associated link to purchase or view Moree information too.  All us content creators ensure we bring you the very latest news and information in the world of tech and its new. So want to see what other have to offer after this post. Well head over to the following site, which I personally use too.

At the same time, there are new handsets taking a fresh approach – offering the best possible hardware at the lowest possible price – that also fit within what we would consider mid-range in 2018; handsets like the Pocophone F1, which offer flagship specs without the price-tag.

With these factors in mind, here you’ll find a rundown of phones that we think offer the best bang for your buck while costing around half as much as you would expect to pay for a 2018 flagship.

How we select the best budget smartphones

Just as with any of our other ‘best smartphone’ roundups, this list is designed to reflect the best that the current smartphone market has to offer based on constraints like price and feature-set. We review every phone we consider before it can be placed in a line-up such as this, slipping our SIM cards in and using each phone as our main device solidly for a week at the very minimum.

We test claims on performance and battery life with both real-world and artificial benchmarks, we trial new features and cast a scrutinous eye over every facet and flaw that these phones might possess, all in the pursuit of providing a clear, concise review of the latest smartphone to make your buying decision as easy as possible.

OnePlus 6T Best Mid Range Smartphone

Best Mid Range Smartphone
£409.95 View at eBay
£439.00 View at Amazon
£469.00 View at OnePlus

Pros

  • A huge leap in OnePlus design
  • Seriously fast
  • Fast Charge is still great
  • A well thought-out version of Android with great extras

Cons

  • Camera still needs improvement
  • Missing a few ‘flagship’ features

The OnePlus 6T is arguably the phone that demonstrates just how much OnePlus as a company has grown up in its short lifespan. While at the upper end in this mid-range roundup, starting at £499, the OnePlus 6T feels practically as much of a flagship as any iPhone or top-tier Samsung does.

Not only does it adopt a beautiful metal and glass design, and a notch-laden extended display, just like the rest of 2018’s flagships, it also offers some of the best smartphone performance on the market. There’s a cleanly-skinned Android 9.0 Pie experience with some meaningful tweaks and the company’s excellent Fast Charge technology. Making out one of the Best Mid Range Smartphone

The primary cameras are also a massive improvement on their predecessors, even if they still lag slightly behind the best in the business. There’s no headphone jack, however OnePlus has added a slick in-display fingerprint scanner that’s the final futuristic feature.

Pocophone F1

Best Mid Range Smartphone
£275.00 View at eBay
£310.00 View at Amazon Marketplace
£320.00 View at Amazon

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Superb performance
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Decent cameras

Cons

  • MIUI for Poco will take some getting used to
  • Thick bezels
  • Plastic build
  • No NFC

Being supported by Chinese tech giant Xiaomi’s manufacturing infrastructure has allowed new player Pocophone to make a serious splash with its first handset, the Pocophone F1. For around $/£300 you get a liquid-cooled Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with at least 6GB of RAM, a huge 4000mAh battery, a decent notched Full HD+ display and a surprisingly good pair of AI-enhanced main cameras making this also one of the Best Mid Range Smartphone

The MIUI for Poco skinned Android experience will take a little getting used for anyone who hasn’t used a Xiaomi phone before, but the price/performance balance this handset strikes borders on astonishing.

It comes in three polycarbonate finishes (red, blue or black) or, if you’re willing to fork out a little more cash, the Kevlar-backed ‘Armored Edition’ seen above.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)

Pros

  • Great OLED screen
  • Solid value
  • Ultra-wide camera is fun

Cons

  • Weak GPU
  • Slow charging and no USB-C

The Samsung Galaxy A7  is a lower-cost alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It’s a compelling choice with some neat extras including an extra ultra-wide camera and a strong OLED screen; two things you’d rarely normally find at this price.

This is far from a gaming phone, though. The Galaxy A7 has a solid CPU, but its graphics chipset is among the weakest in this class and we’d recommend something else if you love mobile gaming.

The ultra-wide secondary camera is a great feature too, giving some variety to the shots you take. The main camera is perfectly adequate, especially at the £309 price.

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Honor 10

£324.99 View at eBay
£289.00 View at Appliances Direct
£289.00 View at Laptopsdirect

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Powerful hardware
  • Good value

Cons

  • EMUI Android skin is bloated
  • Some performance bugs

Honor has released a lot of great value-for-money smartphones in 2018 but its latest flagship, the Honor 10, is the best. It’s a stylish and capable smartphone that gives you most of what the pricier Huawei P20 does for under £400.

You get dual AI-enhanced cameras set within the phone’s eye-catching ‘Aurora’ reflective glass back, fast charging and the same Kirin 970 processor that powers Huawei’s current top smartphones, complete with NPU (neural processing unit) for AI-based tasks.

The company’s EMUI software experience is highly customisable but might be the biggest issue as it also brings with it a few bugs and a little slow-down from time to time. Nothing some focussed software updates can’t fix, though.

Nokia 7 Plus

£246.25 View at eBay
£279.95 View at John Lewis

Pros

  • Big, bright screen
  • Impressive battery life
  • Android One has potential

Cons

  • Lots of app crashes and software bugs
  • Could do with some design tweaks

A big display, a big battery, lossless optical zoom on its primary dual camera and a clean and up-to-date Android One experience make the Nokia 7 Plus an easy recommendation.

One of HMD Global’s best phones since licensing the Nokia brand, the Nokia 7 Plus left us pleasantly surprised by what it brought to the table, considering it can be had for under £350. The polycarbonate body of the Plus comes with the Nokia line’s signature copper accents, helping it stand out from the crowd. There’s a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor too.

The Snapdragon 660 processor is more conservative than what the majority of phones in this lineup come packing, but paired with clean Android One software onboard, this phone feels just as fast and fluid as any more premium handset. Don’t forget to share this post if you found it useful. Best Mid Range Smartphone

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