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Data security

September 11, 2011

Germany's minister for consumer protection has cautioned her cabinet colleagues against using the social networking site Facebook. The warning was issued over data security concerns.

A man logs in to Facebook
Facebook has over 750 million usersImage: picture-alliance/dpa

A top member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet has warned her colleagues against using the social networking site Facebook to promote their work, citing data protection concerns.

Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner said in a letter obtained by newsmagazine Der Spiegel that it was "crucial to ensure that the Facebook button is not used on any of our official government websites."

Aigner quit Facebook around a year ago in protest at the company's data security practices.

She said "fan pages" which users can join to get information about organizations should also be avoided "in light of justified legal doubts."

Ilse Aigner
Aigner says the government should set a good exampleImage: dapd

She said ministries and members of parliament should "set a good example and give data protection its due."

The German government has persistently issued warnings over online security on websites such as Facebook. It says certain features on the popular social networking site such as the "Like" button - which allows users to indicate their preferences for particular postings - can be used by advertisers to gauge users' consumer preferences.

"This data can be used to create a detailed user profile, although Facebook denies creating such profiles for Facebook non-users," a statement from Aigner's industry later said.

It added that Aigner would visit the United States to speak with executives from Facebook and other firms "about respect for German and European data protection policies."

Author: Darren Mara (AFP, AP)
Editor: Kyle James