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Twitter, Facebook sued for 'abusive' methods

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Twitter, Facebook sued for 'abusive' methods
Facebook, who founder is Mark Zuckerberg is pictured above (right), is among the social network giants targeted in a new French privacy lawsuit. Photo: Jose Lago/AFP
11:21 CET+01:00
A French consumer watchdog group announced on Tuesday it was suing Twitter, Facebook and Google for allegedly breaking France's privacy laws. The lawsuit is the latest in a battle over privacy protection on social networks in France.

France's leading consumer rights group said on Tuesday it had filed suit against Twitter, Facebook and Google accusing the Internet giants of breaching privacy laws.

UFC-Que Choisir said it had filed suit in the Paris high court for "abusive" and "illegal" practices in the conditions of use on the Twitter, Facebook and Google+ social networks.

The group, which advises consumers about services, products and their rights, warned the companies last summer that it would file suit if they did not address concerns over terms of use and data-collection practices.

"After several months of talks and despite our warnings, they are stubbornly maintaining clauses that the association considers abusive or illegal," UFC-Que Choisir said in a statement. The name Que Choisir means "how to choose".

"It’s a risk for consumers in France, but beyond that, for us at Que Choisir, its looks to be illegal. For us the terms and conditions of Google, Twitter and Facebook do not respect French law," Que Choisir legal expert Amal Taleb told The Local on Tuesday. "We are seeking to get the legal system to order these companies to rewrite their terms and conditions to comply with French law."

The organization said the terms of use for the sites were "inaccessible, unreadable and full of hypertext links" with some links available only in English.

"Worse, the networks persist in authorizing the widespread collection, modification, preservation and use of the data of users and even of those around them," it said.

"Faced with such abuses," the group is asking French judges to "order the suppression or modification of the myriad of contentious clauses imposed by these companies."

European nations including France have increasingly cracked down on the controversial privacy policies of global Internet giants.

In January, France's data protection watchdog imposed a 150,000-euro ($207,000) fine -- the maximum possible -- on Google for failing to comply with privacy guidelines.

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