english edition

Ads Ahead - StudiVZ Changes TOS

StudiVZ – Germany’s Facebook clone and with about 4 million registered users largest social network – has surpassed T-Online as the most trafficed site in Germany as tracked by IVW in May and has been enjoying massive growth in traffic and page impressions during the last couple of months.

Page Impressions in billions according to IVW:

Nov: 5.2
Oct: 4.4
Sep: 3.6
Aug: 3.2
Jul: 3.0
Jun: 2.8
May: 2.5

Time to milk that cow, but since the existing TOS and privacy policy were in the way of their ideas for monetising the platform they will change them effective December 20th and let their members know that they have to agree to the new terms by January 9th or their accounts will be suspended.

Significant changes include: accounts can no longer be deleted, like in Facebook they just become deactivated; members proactively have to agree that their personal data and analysis of their clickstreams can be used for serving targeted ads on the site, but also via text message, email, IM or phone; studiVZ can share user data with third parties if allowed by law.

I agree that studiVZ can share my user- and/or usage data with third parties if allowed by law and/or legal regulations or precedences.

Ich willige ein, dass studiVZ Bestandsdaten und/oder Nutzungsdaten von mir an Dritte weitergibt, wenn und soweit die Übermittlung der Daten aufgrund gesetzlicher Vorschriften und/oder infolge von Gerichtsentscheidungen zulässig ist.

Users can object to some of the changes regarding the usage of personal data and can opt out of getting ads delivered outside of the site it seems.

The phrasing of quoted section is disturbing though. I’m no lawyer but they seem to give themselves a card blanche for doing anything they want with users’ data should they ever feel like it. We have seen an outburst of rage in the press, in blogs, from politicians and privacy advocates and concerned users alike and they just published a press release stating that they don’t sell user data (they use the present tense in their clarification), that protecting their users’ privacy is their highest good, etc. to calm things down, but there is a difference between sharing data (e.g. with law enforcing agencies) if required by law and sharing data with unspecified third parties if one way or the other allowed by law.

Anyways, it will be interesting to watch what they come up with and what they get through with both legally and with their users.

Further reading (in German): FAQ changes of TOS, StudiVZ setzt auf Schnüffel-Werbung [Spiegel – StudiVZ places its bet on spy ads], Werbung und persönliche Daten: neue AGB für StudiVZ [heise – Ads and personal data: new TOS for StudiVZ] / blogbar, e-commerce-blog, kooptech, netzpolitik, nitchimoo and many more

(This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here)

meta 14.12.2007 #