4 August 2013

Bulgaria’s ambassadors receive ban to use Facebook

Image: Borys Tarasuk and Kristian Vigenin together with Gerben-Jan Gerbandy
by European Parliament on Flickr

Borys Tarasuk and Kristian Vigenin together with Gerben-Jan Gerbandy

The smiling gentleman to the right is Kristian Vigenin – Bulgaria’s current minister of foreign affairs.

Recent media reports say he has directed all ambassadors of the small eastern European republic to refrain from using the most popular social network.

“Why is that?” one might ask and the answer is quite simple – for the last 50 days Bulgaria has been facing the largest anti-government protest since January 1997 and statements posted on Facebook show that some of the ambassadors side rather with the #ДАНСwithme participants than with their employer.

In other words, Vigenin’s instruction is nothing but a gag order on Bulgaria’s diplomats abroad and speaks volumes about this government’s preference to deal with plurailty of opinion and public criticism.

2 October 2011

Hóigh, Facebook, How Deeply Do You Care About Data Protection?

Image: Hanover Quay – Dublin Docklands by informatique on Flickr
Hanover Quay - Dublin Docklands

Hanover Quay, Dublin 2.

That is the address of Facebook’s European headquarter or, strictly legally, the business seat of the Facebook Ireland Limited.

The above is important

as owing to Section 18 of Facebook’s Terms of Use, users who are not residents of the USA and Canada have their agreement to use the social network with Facebook’s Irish subsidiary.

That means that if you have any

data protection issues

with the Zuckerberg-led company, you are entitled to approach the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

The Austrian based data protection advocacy group Europe vs Facebook already started doing this.
They have identified several breaches and have undertaken a number of actions, thereby including complaints and access requests and, have covered each of them on their website.


enforcing its powers

under Section 10 of the Data Protection Act, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has started an investigation against Facebook.

I am curious what the outcome of the foregoing will be and will therefore monitor and provide for follow-ups.

By the way, how much do you care about what Facebook does with your data, but without your consent?

6 August 2011

Sanford Wallace Cannot Let Go

Image: spam by Vince_Lamb on Flickr

Who remembers Sanford Wallace?

Exactly, this is the spammer sued by Facebook, which won a $711 million civil judgement against him. But that was not all – owing to a court order Wallace was also under the obligation to forbear from accessing Facebook’s social network.

However, judging from that press release of the United States Department of Justice

Wallace’s abstinence

did not last long.

Upon a two-year investigation by the FBI, he is currently facing criminal charges for having disobeyed the order of the court as he had created a Facebook profile entitled “David Sinful-Saturdays Fredericks” and had maintained it on a regular basis.

Those activities, in the view of the prosecution, constitute acts of


in connection with electronic mail and computers pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030 and 1037.

The charges are likely to result in the perennial imprisonment of Wallace.

I do not understand why he had to do this.
Was he maybe competing for the King’s Crown?

11 January 2011

Hunted on Facebook, drafted by the Israeli Defense Forces

Soldiers and the priest_1937cphoto © 2007 James Emery | more info (via: Wylio)

I am always curious to read news and articles related to social media networks and privacy. The last one I got aware of deals with Israeli women’s attempts to escape their duty to join the  military service alleging some religious reasons.

However, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) did not accept those allegations with just a good faith. Moreover, the IDF officers sought for applicants’ profiles on Facebook that possibly showed them being not that devoted to God. Reportedly, they were successful.

For me this incident is important for two reasons. First, it represents just another alert to all users of social media networks that ignore the consequences of sharing personal data with the world at large. Second, it comes at the same time with the EU Commission’s decision to declare Israel “an adequate” country in terms of data protection. Not that such an incident could not have happened under the jurisdiction of an EU member state, but the coincidence is somewhat symptomatic.

Now, what is the moral of the story? Once again, beware of what you share with others and do neither underestimate nor neglect the consequences. Last but not least, do not blindly trust in Commission’s choices as to a state of data protection adequacy.


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26 February 2010

Facebook granted a dubious patent

what shows up in your newsfeedphoto © 2009 Cambodia4kids.org Beth Kanter | more info (via: Wylio)

The readers of the Reguligence Weblog are familiar with the fact that I am not a supporter of software and business method patents. Moreover, I am rather a doubter as to those patents’ furtherance to the Information Technology at all. Nevertheless, I should be grateful to Facebook for giving me an occasion to have another post on this issue.

As you might have already perceived, Facebook has been granted the patent #7669123 for “dynamically providing a newsfeed about a user of a social network”. Basically, Facebook has patented the news feed that provides a user of their social network with the information about what other users are currently doing or at best have done on that network.

To me this is a trivial patent par excellence. While the patent eligibility could be easily satisfied under the Federal Circuit’s holding in Bilski, in pursuance to which “a method claim is surely patentable subject matter if (1) it is tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or thing. ” and a social network could (arguably) serve as an “apparatus”, there are some doubts with respect to that patent’s novelty and non-obviousness. According to GIGAOM, the social network Multiply.com had a similar interface for keeping track of friends’ actions before Facebook launched its own. As regards the inventive step applied, I believe that aforementioned “invention” would be laughably obvious even to a person having just basic knowledge in social networks, not to mention a “person skilled in the art”.

Notwithstanding, the patent, albeit a “weak” one, has been granted and – unless successfully challenged and invalidated- will be valid for the next 17-18 years. I am personally curious whether Facebook will at some time take the risk and attempt enforcement, and hence share the destiny of Amazon and their one-click-patent.


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10 February 2010

Do not post on Facebook while wanted

Facebook for Dummies, anyone?photo © 2008 David Fulmer | more info (via: Wylio)


Imagine you are wanted by law enforcement officers who, upon discovery, would imprison you without any delay. What would you do? I bet you would hide and keep beneath surface. Moreover, you would very likely think twice before using social media, whereby proudly communicating your wanted poster to the public. No, you would not? Your case then would pretty much equate Christopher Crego’s current situation.

It is somehow surprising that some society’s members do not recognize social media as well as other web 2.0 applications to be “public”.  This appears even weirder as the desire to “communicate with the public” is considered the main drive behind the use of such platforms. In the field of internet, hence, public is where others could look into your content, get notice what you do or otherwise interact with you. Everything leaving your privacy almost automatically enters the public realm.

In this regard social media has the potential of great convenience – communication with others is just a click away. Equally important, however, social media has also proved problematic – think of people that got fired for being on Facebook while actually on sick leave or of recently reported recruiters’ practices.

So, be careful because the social media has you!

21 November 2009

Facebook faces class action for fraudulent game practices

YoVille Monetization Structure and Strategyphoto © 2009 i a walsh | more info (via: Wylio)

Do you have an account on Facebook? And are you probably tired of reading messages like “your friend XXX just won first place on Fraternity’s Drinking Bout”*? Well, such messages are likely to disappear or at least become less in future.

The reason behind is that Facebook and its social network games’ supplier Zynga are currently facing a class action for having fraudulently lured social networks users to lose money in online games, ads and quizzes.

The lead claimant in the case is a woman named Rebecca Swift, who has been charged over $165 as a result of accepting a “free” ad offer in exchange for YoCash usable in Zynga’s YoVille virtual world. She claims neither to have accepted an offer nor to have acted in an intent to be legally bound.

Both defendants counter that the ad offers in suit were provided by outside undertakings for whom they were not liable. The claimant, however, alleges the defendants displayed the fraudulent offers knowingly and were thus liable.

The suit seeks to obtain upwards of $5 million in damages.


*The game’s name is absolutely fictional.

4 November 2009

Facebook wins lawsuit against infamous spammer

Facebook brought suit against Sanford Wallace, a notorious online marketer and spammer, claiming that Wallace and his affiliates created Facebook accounts through which they established a phishing scheme in November 2008.

The suit was based on the so called CAN-SPAM Act (‘‘Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003’’) and Facebook claimed cited 14 million violations to that law and $7.5 billion in damages.

Last week, Facebook eventually prevailed and was awarded damages upwards of $700 million in the District Court in San Jose, California.

Though Facebook may never receive the entire $700 million award, considering Wallace filed bankruptcy, the verdict sends a strong messages to spammers and would-be spammers to stay off social networks.

27 April 2009

Keep your job or surf on Facebook – what would you choose?

Facebook - Friend and foe!photo © 2008 Mark Jensen | more info (via: Wylio)

I agree, the topic of this posting may read a bit weird, but only unless you live and work in Switzerland. According to the Swiss 20 Minuten Online an insurance company based in Basel fired an employee after having registered her activity on Facebook.

Ok, that was just a part of the story, because the employee had purported to have migraine and was thus medically certified to be unfit for screen handling. Nevertheless she was observed being active on Facebook obviously using a computer screen…

My advice in this matter: (1) always be honest to your employer and (2) think before you link a contact to your social network profile!