German authorities have a long history of going after Google and especially Google’s Street View for its invasion of privacy. One indication that Facebook is emerging as the top dog of the internet is that German authorities in the state of Schleswig-Holstein have started to tackle the Facebook phenomenon, too.

Thilo Weichert, Data Protection Commissioner (yes, they have such a thing) for Schleswig-Holstein, has issued an order that state institutions remove their Facebook pages and any “Like” buttons that appear on other websites. “Whoever visits or uses a plug-in,” he warns, “must expect that he or she will be tracked by the company for two years.” He goes on to say that, “Facebook builds a broad individual and for members even a personalized profile,” which includes, he claims, the IP addresses of anyone who clicks the “Like” button.

This, says Weichert is in violation of German and European law.

Facebook responded by saying that all data is deleted within 90 days, in keeping with industry norms, but Weichert doesn’t buy it. He wants local users to stop clicking “Like”, because they are unknowingly passing information to the company. He has gone so far as to threaten legal action against websites that have “Like” plug-ins, saying that they could face a fine.

The question being asked now is how much Weichert’s pronouncement has to do with the protection of privacy and how much it has to do with political shenanigans. Germany recently faced its own Anthony Weineresque scandal when Christian von Boetticher, a leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party from Schleswig Holstein, was forced to resign because of improprieties with a 16-year-old he met on a social networking site. According to some of his political colleagues, von Boetticher spent more time on Facebook than he did on his job. In other words, social networking caused him to “Like” someone a bit too much.

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