There is an interesting ruling out of Germany where the country’s highest court declared Facebook’s “friend finder” feature to be unlawful as a deceptive marketing practice. The case was filed by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV).
The feature invites users to grant it permission to vacuum up the email addresses of friends or contacts in the user’s address book. Facebook then sends an invitation to non-Facebook users to join the service. Two lower courts said that the feature violates laws on data protection and unfair trade practices.
The feature is obviously a big part of Facebook’s growth and recently it was announced that it was available on Xbox. That raises a serious issue with how to comply with this change with not just legal but marketing impacts. This is a huge economy and such products may have to be made on a dual track to avoid violations.