EU Court: administrators of Facebook page are co-responsible for data processing

Jun

5

2018

European Court of Justice has ruled in a ruling that the administrator of a Facebook page together with Facebook must be regarded as responsible when it comes to the processing of personal data. Supervisors can address those managers.

The European judge states that there is no doubt that Facebook is responsible for the processing of personal data of visitors to pages on its social network. In the judgment, however , the judge also places the shared responsibility with the administrator of that page. This means that both parties must take care of the protection of personal data and that, for example, regulators can also approach the managers if they do not comply with the privacy legislation.

The judge comes to this conclusion because an administrator of a Facebook page can request certain information about the visitors of that page, for example about age, gender, profession, lifestyle and interests. In this way he processes personal data. In addition, the manager also determines the purpose of that processing by being able to influence the settings of his page, for example by setting up filters. According to the Court, it does not matter that the administrator only gains insight into anonymised statistics, which were collected by Facebook in the first instance with cookies.

The responsibility does not apply to users of Facebook. The Court states: “Although a Facebook user is not co-responsible for the processing of personal data by this network due to the mere use of a social network like Facebook, it should be noted that the manager of a fan page on Facebook creates the network by creating of such a page offers the possibility to place cookies on the computer or on any other device of the person who has visited the fan page, irrespective of whether this person has a Facebook account. ”

It is important that the Court emphasizes that it is a shared responsibility, but not necessarily an equivalent one. For example, the ‘level of responsibility’ must in any case be determined on the basis of the circumstances. The current case was brought before the European court because a German judge asked questions when assessing a case. In it, a German privacy supervisor had instructed a company, Wirtschaftsakademie Schleswig-Holstein, to remove his Facebook page. The company objected to this decision because it felt that it was not responsible for the processing.

The concepts of responsibility and processing derive from the privacy legislation and are explained in more detail in the recent article about the AVG . The current lawsuit is about the interpretation of the guideline that has been replaced by the AVG.

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