Schleswig-Holstein: Higher Administrative Court orders Wirtschaftsakademie to deactivate Facebook fan page due to data protection violations
The Higher Administrative Court of Schleswig-Holstein ('the Higher Administrative Court') announced, on 26 November 2021, that it had issued its judgment, in which it ordered Wirtschaftsakademie Schleswig-Holstein GmbH to deactivate its Facebook fan page for violations regarding the use of the personal data of individuals registered and logged into Facebook.
Background to the judgment
In particular, the Higher Administrative Court outlined that the Schleswig-Holstein data protection authority ('ULD') had ordered, in December 2011, Wirtschaftsakademie to deactivate its Facebook fan page it operated due to data protection violations, and that in October 2013, the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court ('the Administrative Court') had overturned the judgment in question. Further to this, the ULD had lodged an appeal against the judgment of the Administrative Court, which the Higher Administrative Court rejected in September 2014. In the subsequent appeal proceedings, the Federal Administrative Court had submitted some preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union. After the latter had issued it ruling in June 2018, in September 2019 the Federal Administrative Court overturned the ruling of the Higher Administrative Court from September 2014 and referred the case back to the Higher Administrative Court.
Findings of the Higher Administrative Court
Further to the above, the Higher Administrative Court recognised serious data protection violations in the use of personal data of persons registered and logged into Facebook. More specifically, the Higher Administrative Court highlighted that the use of personal data in question was unlawful and that users had not consented to it. In addition, the Higher Administrative Court stated that users had not been sufficiently informed about the data collection and subsequent use that were triggered by visiting Wirtschaftsakademie's Facebook fan page.
Lastly, the Higher Administrative Court outlined that a complaint against the non-admission of the appeal against the judgment from September 2014 can be lodged within one month after delivery of the written reasons for the judgment of the Higher Administrative Court, which are not yet available.
You can read the press release, only available in German, here.
UPDATE (27 January 2022)
ULD issues statement on Higher Administrative Court's judgment
The Schleswig-Holstein data protection authority ('ULD') issued, on 19 January 2022, a press release, in which it summarised the Higher Administrative Court's findings in the Wirtschaftsakademie case and published the Higher Administrative Court's judgment in full. In particular, the ULD highlighted that, according to the Higher Administrative Court, valid consent could not be effectively obtained because Facebook's data usage guidelines did not contain sufficiently specific information and that the lack of information also led to a violation of the transparency requirement.