Facebook: Data protectors may ban fan page pages

The operator of a so-called fan page on Facebook may be obliged to switch off his fan page if Facebook violates the privacy policy. This was decided by the Federal Administrative Court on Wednesday in Leipzig after a year-long legal dispute (Ref. BVerwG 6 C 15.18). If the data processing that takes place when the fan page was called up was illegal, the deactivation order constitutes a proportionate means because the data protection authority "no other possibility for the production of data protection compliant conditions is open",

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Thus, the judges gave the Schleswig-Holstein Center for Data Protection (ULD) right, which had invited the Wirtschaftsakademie Schleswig-Holstein in 2011 to close their fan page on Facebook. In February 2016, the Federal Administrative Court had presented the case to the ECJ in a so-called preliminary ruling. In June 2018, the ECJ decided that operators of a so-called fan page on Facebook, together with the social network, are responsible for the protection of user data.

Lack of cooperation from Facebook

On this basis, the Federal Administrative Court now ruled in the appeal proceedings that the ULD had filed a lawsuit against a decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Schleswig. In September 2014, the Schleswig-Holstein judges had still rejected the view of the privacy advocates.

In the opinion of the federal judges it was permissible that the data protection authority did not turn to Facebook, but directly to the business academy. The privacy advocates should not have acted against one of the subdivisions or branches of Facebook, "because that would have been associated with significant factual and legal uncertainties because of the lack of cooperation from Facebook",

Fanpage operator as a "door opener"

The federal judges classified according to the news agency dpa the fan page operators as "Door opener" for the data collection. "It is sufficient that a contribution is made for the purpose of data collection and processing"said the presiding judge of the 6th Senate, Ingo Kraft, in the trial.

The business academy argues according to dpa, that it will be imposed on the data processing. "The data processing is done by Facebook." As a site operator I can hardly resist that this happens "said the lawyer of the educational institution at the hearing.

The Higher Administrative Court Schleswig now has to deal again with the case. There, the question must be clarified whether the data processing operations complained of at that time by the ULD were actually unlawful.