Facebook Likes
Facebook Like is embedded in a website through a plugin Reuters

A clothing retailer has been asked to remove the Facebook Like button from its website as it violated EU data protection laws, a German court has ruled. The Duesseldorf District Court said on 9 March that the Facebook Like button on Peek & Cloppenburg's website shared user data with the social media company without seeking permission from customers.

According to the court verdict, the site uses cookies to gather information from devices and without the consent of a user it passes on data to the social media giant through its Like button, which violates German and European data protection standards.

"A mere link to a data protection statement at the foot of the website does not constitute an indication that data are being or are about to be processed," the court said. The Consumer Protection Association of North-Rhine Westphalia had filed the case against Peek & Cloppenburg and Payback in the Regional Courts of Dusseldorf and Munich regarding the use of Facebook's Like button on their website.

The lawsuit application said, "The criticism pursuant to data protection law is that the transfer of data takes place irrespective of whether the user is registered with Facebook or not and irrespective of whether they even use the "like" button."

However, this isn't the first time that lawmakers have questioned the use of social media. Online hotel site HRS, Eventim (a ticket dealer), Beiersdorf (online store) and discount store Kik were also facing legal battles over the same feature. In two of the cases, the court ruled against the use of the Like button, while Kik and Beiersdorf are considering out-of-court settlements.

"This case is specific to a particular website and the way they have sought consent from their users in the past. The Like button, like many other features that are used to enhance websites, is an accepted, legal and important part of the Internet, and this ruling does not change that," a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters.