BMI for more data protection

Today, many websites use social media channels: Either by providing buttons to recommend the websites’ contributions on Twitter, Facebook or other social networks, or by integrating streams from the networks into their websites. These services are provided by the respective networks; their functions cannot be influenced by the website operator, and they may change at any time. Unfortunately, these links will, without any user intervention, send data to the respective network as soon as the page is loaded, since they are embedded in the iFrame.

From a data protection point of view, it is questionable to have these functions on the website because in fact, visitors to the website are not able to control whether or not, nor which data in particular are being transferred to the networks. Among other things, these data will include the URL of the page currently loaded, the browser ID, a cookie and the IP address of the device used. If you are logged in to Facebook at the same time, your visit can be directly assigned to your Facebook account. This may even work if you are not logged in. Facebook and other social networks can use this to compile entire surfing profiles of their users.

These facts put us, the Austrian Ministry of the Interior (BMI), on the horns of a dilemma: On the one hand, the BMI does not want to do without the important information channels provided by social media, on the other hand, we want to give visitors the choice of whether they want to pass on data or not.

Therefore, the Ministry of the Interior has decided to deactivate any connections to social media channels. In order to establish a connection, a user who wishes to do so must actively enable the YouTube, Twitter and/or Facebook channels on the homepage. It is only then that data is being exchanged between the respective channel and the user.

News articles on the BMI homepage can be "shared" on Facebook or "posted" on Twitter. To do so, click on the respective button and confirm the message box that opens. Only if you do this the button will become active. This method was originally developed by Heise Publishing House and is used by renowned websites such as ORF or ARD.

With this procedure we strive to do justice to both the possibilities of social networks and the protection of the data of visitors to our website.