Twitter breaks privacy law, says Norwegian consumer group

Out-Law News | 04 Dec 2009 | 12:25 pm | 1 min. read

The Norwegian consumer group that says that Facebook's terms and conditions break the law has pledged also to take action against Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Norwegian Consumer Council told technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio that it would expand its social networking action to include the two platforms in a bid to force companies to comply with Norwegian law.

The Council has already won a high profile battle with Apple over the tying of its iTunes online shop content to its iPod music players, and is also investigating the tying of Amazon's online shop content to its Kindle e-book reader.

"None of the international social networks adhere to even the most basic contractual and privacy principles that apply in an offline environment," said Hans Marius Graasvold, the assistant director of the council.

"We can't allow these social media and other types of online services set the agenda for what should be the future of online contracts and also online privacy," he said. "We need to step up to the test now and do something about it now."

The Council will lodge a formal complaint early next year about Facebook. Graasvold revealed to OUT-LAW Radio, though, that it is also likely to complain about Twitter and LinkedIn. He conceded that the Consumer Ombudsman may not be able to take action against LinkedIn because it is designed as a tool for professionals rather than as a consumer service.

Graasvold said that the Council's year-long research into social network use demonstrated that the terms and conditions of social networking sites were inadequate.

"Practically no consumers read the terms of online services," he said. "The very few that read them don't understand them. That wouldn't be a huge problem if the terms of service were actually consumer-friendly and in line with traditional contract law and privacy principles."

The Council says, though, that the sites do not abide by Norwegian law on consumer contracts and privacy.

Graasvold said that he has already received interest in his conclusions from fellow consumer lobby groups in Scandinavia and from the European Commission.

Hear Hans Marius Graasvold on OUT-LAW Radio

For transcript and downloads, see: Facebook faces consumer rights challenge, OUT-LAW Radio, 03/12/2009