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Facebook to face trial in France over nude painting case

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PARIS — Social networking company Facebook would be tried in France for blocking a Frenchprofessor’s account after he posted a picture of a nude painting, a media report said.

A French court decided on Friday that a file against the company over a painting of a nude woman can be tried in France, rejecting Facebook’s argument that it is governed by Californian law, Reuters reported.

Facebook was sued by a French professor whose account was blocked after he posted a nineteenth century painting by Gustave Courbet, ‘The Origin of the World’, portraying a women’s genitalia.

The professor filed a case against the company, saying the site could not differentiate between pornography and art.

A Paris appeals court threw out Facebook’s appeal after the company argued that only the US courts had jurisdiction to hear cases against it.

The professor’s lawyer Stephane Cottineau said, “They might be multi-nationals but the court ruling means they are not outside French law. If they set up in France and contract workers here, then French law must be applied to them,” Cottineau added.

Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, had appealed against a Paris High Court’s authority to hear the case but the appeal court said Facebook’s claim was inadmissible.

Facebook said French courts were not competent to handle the case and that the contract with the user was “not a consumer contract because Facebook’s service was free.”

The French court will now decide whether or not the professor’s freedom of expression was violated.

Agencies

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Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds

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Over 3300 free and popular children’s Android apps available on the Google Play Store could be violating child privacy laws, according to a new, large-scale study, highlighting growing criticism of Silicon Valley’s data collection efforts.

Researchers using an automated testing process have discovered that 3,337 family and child oriented Android apps on Google Play were improperly collecting kids’ data, potentially putting them in violation of the US’ Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA law (which limits data collection for kids under 13).

Only a small number were particularly glaring violations, but many apps exhibited behavior that could easily be seen as questionable.

Researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that 3,337 of them may be in violation of the COPPA, according to the study report. The tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without their parent’s permission, the study found.

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“This is a market failure,” said Serge Egelman, a co-author of the study and the director of usable security and privacy research at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

“The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done.”

The researchers are adamant that they’re not showing ‘definitive legal liability.’ These apps may be running afoul of the law, but it’s up to regulators at the FTC to decide if they are. Without iOS data, it’s also unclear how common this problem is across platforms.

The potential violations were abundant and came in several forms, according to the study. More than 1,000 children’s apps collected identifying information from kids using tracking software whose terms explicitly forbid their use for children’s apps, the study found.

The researchers also said that nearly half the apps fail to always use standard security measures to transmit sensitive data over the Web, suggesting a breach of reasonable data security measures mandated by COPPA. Each of the 5,855 apps under review was installed more than 750,000 times, on average, according to the study.

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Unfortunately for parents, there’s little consumers can do to protect themselves since the policies and business practices of app developers and ad tracking companies are often opaque, Egelman said.

The study also points to a breakdown of so-called self-regulation by app developers who claim to abide by child privacy laws, as well as by Google, which runs the Android platform, he said.

Agencies

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