No fans of fan pages - data protection authorities may prohibit operation

Facebook fans Responsibilities
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Responsibility for the operation of Facebook fan pages

Facebook fan pagesIn a clarifying ruling, the Federal Administrative Court has further defined the responsibility for the operation of Facebook fan pages. The pending proceedings concerned an administrative act by the Independent State Center for Data Protection Schleswig-Holstein (ULD) against the operator of a Facebook fan page. The ULD prohibited the operator from operating a fan page back in 2013, as an unclear amount of data was collected by Facebook on this page. The operator initially successfully defended itself against the deactivation order.

Following the referral of this case by the Federal Administrative Court, the CJEU ruled back in 2018 that operators of Facebook fan pages are jointly responsible under data protection law (see report from 06.06.2018), as it is the operation of the fan page that creates the incentive for data subjects to visit Facebook and thus forms the basis for data processing.

The binding ruling of the ECJ has now led to a ruling by the Federal Administrative Court. This has referred the case back to the lower court, the Schleswig-Holstein Higher Administrative Court.

What is interesting about the decision is that in its ruling, the Federal Administrative Court expressly approved the option of prohibiting the operation of the fan page as an effective means of ensuring data protection. The challenged deactivation order by the ULD was proportionate in this case.

Furthermore, the Federal Administrative Court clarifies that the supervisory authorities may proceed according to considerations of effectiveness when selecting disruptive parties. The supervisory authorities can approach the operator of the fan page directly, even though they have no influence on Facebook's data collection, and do not have to contact Facebook or its national companies first.

It will now be interesting to see how the data protection authorities position themselves towards public and private operators of Facebook fan pages in the near future.

One thing is certain: fan page operators should familiarize themselves with the data processing on their fan page as far as possible.

If you are unsure how to handle your own fan page, we will be happy to advise you.

from J. Baeck

Further information: bverwg.de/pm/2019/62

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