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Important French Press Article
Posted September 28th, 2012 - 10:19 am by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
The article is fabulous, even if it ends on a dubious note.

For those unfamiliar, Le Nouvel Observateur is pretty much a French equivalent of "Time Magazine" or "Der Spiegel".

http://www.rue89.com/2012/09/27/au-tour-de-couchsurfingorg-de-pietiner-votre-vie-privee-235692

We need to translate this into English, etc...

Posted September 28th, 2012 - 10:27 am by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
The title of the article is:

Au tour de Couchsurfing.org de piétiner votre vie privée

=

Couchsurfing.org's Turn to Trample on Your Private Life

Post removed.
Posted September 28th, 2012 - 10:33 am by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
This post has been removed by the user.

Deleted Post
Posted September 28th, 2012 - 10:34 am by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
"Une récente décision de justice française pourrait changer la donne : la cour d’appel de Pau, dans un conflit opposant Facebook à un utilisateur, a décidé qu’il serait dorénavant possible d’attaquer le réseau social de son lieu de résidence."

A recent French court decision may change the situation: the Appeals Court of Pau, in a conflict between Facebook and a user, decided it is now possible to sue the social network from one's place of residence.

Posted September 28th, 2012 - 10:47 am by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
The French court decision is interesting - and applicable to CS - because it denys that California law is applicable and concerns Facebook excluding a member based on the ToU. The French court deemed the ToU insufficient to inform the consumer and obtain the consumer's contractual consent, and that French law is applicable and that FB can be sued in France even if its ToU says otherwise.

David

Posted September 28th, 2012 - 11:36 am from London, England
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Posted September 28th, 2012 - 3:55 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
A better English translation than Google:

CouchSurfing.org's turn to trample your private life.

The social network, which allows to contact travelers seeking accommodation hosts and free couches, issued new terms of use. And a new (non) privacy policy which has nothing to envy the usual disparaged social networks.

Since September 21, the new point of regulation 5.3, entitled "Member Content License" unleashed the fury of the members informed of changes by e-mail and message on their profile at the end of August:

"Member Content License. If you post Member Content to our Services, you hereby grant us a perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, display, perform, adapt, modify, create derivative works from, distribute, have distributed and promote such Member Content in any form, in all media now known or hereinafter created and for any purpose, including without limitation the right to use your name, likeness, voice or identity."


Collection and sharing of private data

Couchsurfing therefore reserves the right to use all the information of its members: names, addresses, locations, messages, pictures, equipment used, time spent on the mobile app ...

The site goes even further. Its new privacy policy states that Couchsurfing does not share data with third parties in question ... except:

trade with third parties, consultants or service providers who require such information in the context of work for CouchSurfing;

with the search engines;

with partners that perform special operations, contests, events or activities in connection with Couchsurfing;

with companies where sales negotiations or affiliation of all or part of Couchsurfing.

Two modifications, Couchsurfing increases its collection of data on its users and expands its scope. Its like this new regulation standards issued by Facebook, Twitter and company. Except that users Couchsurfing open their doors - literally - the whole world, instead of only interact on the Web.

The "couchsurfers" angry

The new terms of use also state that "any amendment will become effective immediately" and users "waive their right to be informed about these changes" - which implies a tacit agreement of the members. Even if they do not see the changes, a connection to their account after their date of application equals acceptance.

These measures have not escaped the community of couchsurfers who express their discontent through forums such as this user from Munich, Germany:

[quote]
"I beg your pardon? I am ready to share my apartment, which means that I waive any right to my identity? You can use my photos for your advertisements and sell any idiot in the world? Even Facebook does not sell our photos!"
[/quote]
The most experienced rushed to launch a petitionto request clarification from company executives. With a little more than 4000 signatories to nearly 5 million profiles, the protest movement, called "For a strong community behind Couchsurfing" has failed.

Legal limbo

These changes disturb. In France, the implications are still unclear. But in Germany, the case is taking on significant proportions: the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, Peter Schaar, expressed his concerns. The specialist finds the changes unacceptable: according to him, they contravene German law on data protection.

Schaar demands a swift response from Brussels:
he wants to enforce the law of the country in which the user connects, even for foreign sites. In fact, the seat of CouchSurfing is based in San Francisco, United States, it is difficult to determine which law applies to its users and its leaders. The site says it obeys the laws of California.

Clearly, any possible litigation would settle in San Francisco. Difficult for an unhappy European user to conduct a legal battle overseas. A recent court ruling in France could change this: the Court of Appeal of Pau, in a dispute between a Facebook user decided that it would now be possible to attack the social network at his place of residence.

CouchSurfing wants to reassure

Couchsurfing has, for the moment, no intent to respond to claims of its users, but for several weeks, the legal team of the site applies to respond to their concerns.

Leaders argue that the data collection is essential to the functioning of the platform. For relaying the information to a couchsurfer one another, they need all information. The site says it does not intend to use the data collected indiscriminately.

In a recent release of Meredith Hutcheson, Head of Communication and community manager of CouchSurfing, the social network announced that it has taken steps to comply with European law."

Posted September 29th, 2012 - 9:33 am by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
The French court decision is interesting - and applicable to CS - because it denys that California law is applicable and concerns Facebook excluding a member based on the ToU. The French court deemed the ToU insufficient to inform the consumer and obtain the consumer's contractual consent, and that French law is applicable and that FB can be sued in France even if its ToU says otherwise.

David

Posted September 29th, 2012 - 4:53 pm by from London, England (Permalink)
In this case therefore it would NOT make a difference to the French court's decision that Facebook has an office in the EU and CS does not?

Posted September 29th, 2012 - 5:22 pm from Berlin, Germany
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Posted September 29th, 2012 - 5:46 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"In this case therefore it would NOT make a difference to the French court's decision that Facebook has an office in the EU and CS does not?"

Yes, and the same ruling could apply to CouchSurfing:

http://www.luz-avocats.fr//fb/arret_23_03_2012.pdf

Among the reasons why the French courts were declared competent, contrary to the terms of use of Facebook which were deemed non-written, is that at the time the plaintiff opened his account

- the jurisdiction was defined at the very end of long terms of use

- the terms of use were not available in French

- there was no explicit agreement with the terms of use (no electronic signature or click on an "I agree" button)

It could therefore not be considered that the plaintiff knowingly agreed with these terms.

And the French courts were found to be competent because the damage resulting from the closure of the account occurred in France rather than in California.

Also very interesting in this ruling, the fact that the court says that because of the value of the data uploaded by the user the service cannot be considered free, but that the data has a financial value (basically the user is paying for the service with his data).

The ruling is dated March 23rd, 2012. It sentences Facebook to pay the plaintiff's legal fees and refers the case to the Tribunal d’Instance of the city of Bayonne.

All of the above points also apply to the CouchSurfing terms of use and could void them in France and in other countries where CS is taken to court. To reach point 20 of the terms of use, exclusively in English, I have to hit "page down" 8 times, and at no time was I asked to explicitly agree with any of these terms of use.

Posted September 30th, 2012 - 1:26 am from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 28th, 2012 - 4:02 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Another good article was published in Germany:

http://www.surfer-haben-rechte.de/cps/rde/xchg/digitalrechte/hs.xsl/75_2299.htm

Couchsurfing - Soziales Reisen leicht gemacht

Auf Reisen gehen und einmal fernab von touristischen Hotels eine neue
Stadt oder ein neues Land erleben ist für viele besonders anziehend. Man
möchte mittendrin im Leben des Landes sein oder einfach kostenfrei
übernachten, zum Beispiel bei Fremden auf dem Sofa. Die Plattform
Couchsurfing.org macht kostenfreies Übernachten in der Fremde möglich:
Hier wird online der Kontakt zwischen denen, die einen Schlafplatz
suchen und solchen, die einen Schlafplatz bei sich daheim anbieten,
vermittelt. Dazu muss der Nutzer sich mit einem eigenen Profil bei
Couchsurfing.org registrieren. Ein Profil bei Couchsurfing beinhaltet
Daten wie z.B. Name, Adresse, Telefonnummer, Alter, Beruf, persönliche
Vorlieben und Interessen sowie Fotos. Diese umfassenden Angaben über die
Identität sind der wesentliche Bestandteil der Plattform, denn sie
geben allen Beteiligten ein gewisses Sicherheitsgefühl.


Couchsurfing.org ändert seine Bedingungen – zum Nachteil der Nutzer

Die Betreiber von Couchsurfing.org haben im September ihre Allgemeinen
Geschäftsbedingungen und Datenschutzbestimmungen geändert. So räumt sich
der Anbieter nun beispielsweise ein umfassendes Nutzungsrecht an den
Inhalten der Nutzer ein. Damit ist es beispielsweise möglich, Fotos,
private Nachrichten und andere Informationen, die dort hinterlegt wurden
und den Nutzer identifizieren können, für Werbezwecke an Dritte zu
verkaufen - und das unbegrenzt, für alle Zeit, kostenlos und ungefragt.
Eine so umfassende Rechteeinräumung ist nach deutschem Recht unwirksam.
Über neue Änderungen der AGBs möchte das Unternehmen die Nutzer laut
neuer AGBs in Zukunft nicht mehr gesondert informieren.


Wer kann die Rechte der Nutzer durchsetzen?

Nach eigenen Angaben hat das Netzwerk in Deutschland nach den USA die
meisten Nutzern. Die deutschen Datenschutzbestimmungen finden jedoch
keine Anwendung, da das Unternehmen die Daten in den USA erhebt. Daher
können Daten- und Verbraucherschützer rechtlich nur wenig ausrichten.
Der Bundesdatenschutzbeauftragte Peter Schaar hat in einen Brief an die
zuständige US-Handelsbehörde FTC auf die Missstände hingewiesen.


Ein "sicherer Hafen" ist das Internet noch lange nicht

Die Betreiber von CouchSurfing.org geben an, sich dem
Safe-Harbor-Abkommen anzuschließen und damit klarzustellen, dass man
grundlegende Prinzipien des EU-Datenschutzes beachte. Das
Safe-Harbor-Abkommen zwischen der EU und den USA legt die Bedingungen
fest, unter denen Unternehmen Daten von EU-Bürgern verarbeiten dürfen,
wenn sie die Daten nicht innerhalb der EU oder einem Land verarbeiten,
bei dem die EU davon ausgeht, dass es ein gleichwertiges Schutzniveau
bietet. Aber schon der Fall Facebook macht deutlich, dass insbesondere
Anbieter aus den USA sich nicht sonderlich um europäische
Datenschutzstandards kümmern. Europäische Datenschützer und die EU
hatten mehrfach kritisiert, dass dieses Abkommen in den USA nicht
überwacht werde. Das Abkommen allein ohne effektive Durchsetzung der
Richtlinien kann daher kein Garant für die Einhaltung des Datenschutzes
sein.


Alternativen suchen

Wer auf das „Couchsurfing“ trotzdem nicht verzichten möchte, sollte sich
nach alternativen Plattformen umsehen, die nutzerfreundlicher
organisiert sind und die Urheber- und Datenschutzrechte respektieren.

---------------------------------------------------------

English translation

Couchsurfing.org changes its conditions - to the detriment of users

In September the operators of Couchsurfing.org changed in its Terms of
Service and Privacy Policy. The provider now acquires a comprehensive
license for the content of users. This
makes it possible, for example, to sell photos, private messages and
other information that has been stored there and can identify the user,
to third parties for marketing purposes - and that unlimited, for all
time, for free and without notice. Such a comprehensive grant of rights
is ineffective under German law. According to the new terms in the
future the company no longer wants to inform users separately of new
changes to the terms of use.


Who can enforce the rights of users?

According to its own information the network has the most users in
Germany, outside of the U.S., most users. But the German data protection
laws do not apply fbecause the company collects the data in the U.S..
Therefore, data and consumer protectors can do little legally speaking.
In a letter to the

Federal Data Protection Commissioner Peter Schaar has notified the
appropriate U.S. Federal Trade Commission FTC of his grievances.


The internet is still far from being a "safe haven"

The operators of CouchSurfing.org indicate that they join the Safe Harbor
Agreement, and thus clarify that they respect fundamental principles of EU
data protection. The Safe Harbor Agreement between the EU and the U.S.
sets the conditions under which companies may process data of EU citizens
when the data is not processed within the EU or a country with which the EU
believes that it provides an equivalent level of protection. But already the case
of Facebook makes it clear that in particular providers in the U.S.don't care
much about European data protection standards.

European data protection and the EU had repeatedly criticized that this
Agreement will not be monitored in the United States. The agreement alone
without effective enforcement of policies can not be a guarantee of
compliance with data protection.


Seek alternatives

Those who don't want to renounce at "couch surfing" should look for alternative
platforms that are organized in a user-friendly way and respect copyrights and
privacy rights.