The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled today against the operator of a fan page on Facebook, saying that it must be responsible for protecting its personal data.
The case, which predates the GDPR, concerns a German educational firm which ran a fan page on Facebook and used the social network to place cookies on visitors' hard drives so their activities could be tracked. The company had argued that was not responsible for the processing of personal data by Facebook and so should not be subject to the regulations.
The German data protection authorities disagreed, saying that users should be notified about the collection of their personal data and ordered the fan site to be taken down. They have been supported in this stance by the ECJ.
"According to the court, the fact that an administrator of a fan page uses the platform provided by Facebook in order to benefit from the associated services cannot exempt it from compliance with its obligations concerning the protection of personal data," the ECJ said, as reported by Reuters.
The site administrator is involved in the collection process, for example selecting the target audience and choosing the data to gather and is therefore also responsible for ensuring it is processed in a legal manner, the ECJ added.
While it predates the GDPR, the case will no doubt raise questions on the rights and responsibilities of owners of sites and forums that are run on third-party platforms under the new regulation. It is likely many will need to review the data collected and ask users for consent.
In a related ruling the ECJ also confirmed that the German data protection authorities have the power to take action against Facebook even though its European headquarters are in Ireland.
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