Germany warns Facebook over face-recognition app

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Facebook has until November 7 to bring its facial recognition software into conformity with privacy laws in Germany and the European Union or face legal action, a government lawyer told AFP Friday.

"We have had extended negotiations with Facebook and have clearly stressed our position," Johannes Caspar, a lawyer working on the case, told AFP.

"We have given them until November 7," to change the application to conform with privacy laws, he added.

Now was the time for Facebook to make a decision, he said.

"If our demands are not met, we will be obliged to take the legal path...," to force them to conform with the law, he said.

Facebook's controversial application, which has been very popular with users, allows users to identify people through online photos.

But for Berlin, it violates both German and European data protection laws. Germany has accused the US-based company of collecting data without the explicit consent of Facebook users.

"When the data are recorded, Facebook has to have the explicit consent of the person concerned, which is not the case at the moment...," Caspar said.

In August, the Hamburg-based lawyer called on Facebook to delete all the data collected by the biometric facial recognition application, although he did not go as far as to call for the application itself to be withdrawn.

Facebook refused to comply with the request.

Germany acted against another US Internet giant, Google, over its "Google Street View" network, which compiles street-level photos of cities to supplement its map service.

© 2011 AFP

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