CouchSurfing without data protection
Bonn/Berlin, 13 September 2012
Currently, the German or the European data protection law is not applicable in this present case, as the social network is operated by a company located in the U.S. without any branches in Germany or in other Member States of the European Union. The European Commission’s draft General Data Protection Regulation presented on 25th January 2012 provides for a provision stipulating that the strict principles of the EU data protection law should in general also apply when companies from non-EU countries offer their services to citizens of the European Union, even if the companies are not established in Europe (so-called “marketplace principle”).
CouchSurfing (http://www.couchsurfing.org) is an Internet-based hospitality network operated by a U.S. company. The members use the website in order to find free accommodation when travelling or in order to offer accommodation or other "hospitality services", such as guided city tours. According to the company, the network has now 4.8 Million members in more than 90,000 cities around the world with Germany being the country with the largest number of users after the United States of America. The system of the network to grant each other free accommodation and the resulting need for trust and security require the members to create a detailed profile including data such as name, address, telephone number, age, job, personal preferences, interests, and photos.
- Date of issue: