Facebook, which has more than 10 million users in Germany, agreed to change his Friend Finder service to let the Germans better lock the possibility to contact people, including users of Facebook-not culled from address books user's e-mail.
Tina Kulow, a spokesman for Facebook in Hamburg, said in Germany would now be advises users that the site may send solicitations of people on their mailing list, you should choose to upload their address books to Friend Finder.
Facebook, the largest social networking site in the world, has the second Internet business based in the United States to change its operations according to the German privacy laws, which allow individual broad control over personal information. Google was the first. Last year, fines, before Google exclude photos Germans left their homes and apartments from his photographic Map Street View before the service went live.
Like Google, Facebook has decided to change its operation after Johannes Caspar, the data protection supervisor in Hamburg, initiated a review of the practices of the company. Violations of privacy German carry penalties up to $ 300,000 or $ 410,000, but the negative publicity can be more damaging.
Mr. Caspar, during an interview, said that his Office had received "many, many complaints" over the past six months by the Germans who had never used Facebook, but were still receive solicitations Facebook because their e-mail addresses were been siphoned from friends.
The issue has taken on the political overtones, with the data protection Commissioner of Federal Germany, Peter Schaar and its consumer protection Minister, Ilse Aigner, criticizing Facebook for neglecting the German privacy laws.
Mr. Caspar opened its administrative review of Facebook last July.
Initially his Office called Facebook Friend Finder service off in Germany. Meetings were held for the past seven months, he said. In the compromise announced Monday, Facebook agreed to explain the characteristics of prominent Friend Finder and educate users on how to limit your ability to access your contacts and store it.
Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman in Washington said that the company hopes to continue to "constructive discussions and dialogue" with Mr. Caspar.
"We are pleased that we have reached a settlement with the Hamburg D.P.A. with regard to the concern of Friend Finder", said Mr. Noyes, referring to the German city authority for data protection.
Mr. Caspar said that his investigation remains open until he could see if the changes ended complaints.
Prosecutors in Hamburg are weighing whether to bring charges against Google for posting of personal home WiFi router. The admission of the company that were collected personal data from unencrypted WiFi router in the world has given rise to many invsestigations, most of which concluded with an apology and warnings on the ground that it was unintentional.
In Germany, after giving residents the opportunity to opt-out in advance, Google has added Street View in 20 cities of last year. The service includes photographs of around eight million households, said Mr. Caspar, but approximately 23 million more households in rural areas and smaller towns were not added to the store.
Google said it had to recruit workers to process all requests from Germans want to remove the photos of their residences from Street View.