The Federation of German Consumer Organizations successfully sued the online dating portal “SexyDate” at Leipzig Regional Court. The court prohibited the portal from including certain clauses in its general terms and conditions and from using user photos on reminders.
The case: warning for unfair business practices
The consumer advice center issued a warning to the online dating portal “SexyDate”, claiming unfair business practices.
On the one hand, SexyDate sent out reminders to collect outstanding debts, which were accompanied by photos of the users who had been written to. The consumer association saw this as undue influence and a violation of data protection regulations.
On the other hand, the general terms and conditions of SexyDate contained several inadmissible clauses in the opinion of the consumer advice center. For example, it was not transparent on which “additional platforms” the users’ dating profiles were also published. Certain clauses on the processing of sensitive personal data also violated data protection regulations.
SexyDate did not issue a cease-and-desist declaration despite a warning. The consumer association then filed a lawsuit.
The decision: LG Leipzig prohibits photos on reminders and certain GTC clauses
In its ruling, the Leipzig Regional Court upheld the complaint of the consumer association on key points:
Photos on reminders are inadmissible
According to the court, the use of user photos on reminders does not constitute an aggressive business practice pursuant to Section 4a UWG. However, there is a breach of data protection regulations.
The court reasoned as follows:
– Users have consented to the processing of their photos only for the purpose of creating a dating profile.
– The use on reminders is neither necessary for the fulfillment of the contract, nor is there a legitimate interest of the portal.
– Thus, there is no legal basis for the data processing according to Art. 6 DSGVO.
Several GTC clauses are invalid
Certain clauses in SexyDate’s GTC are also invalid according to the court:
– The designation “additional platforms” without naming the specific platforms violates the transparency requirement of Section 307 BGB.
– The mere mention of the domain name instead of the company name and contact details violates the information obligations under Art. 13 GDPR.
– Consent to the processing of sensitive data such as sexual preferences is not “explicit” within the meaning of Art. 9 GDPR and therefore invalid.
– The disclosure of user data for advertising purposes is not permitted in the absence of informed consent pursuant to Art. 6 DSGVO.
The court therefore prohibited the use of these clauses.
Conclusion: Important success for consumer protection
With this decision, the consumer association was able to achieve an important success for consumer protection. It shows that online dating portals must also comply with competition law and data protection regulations. Consumers must be protected from unfair business practices and illegal data processing. Companies are well advised to review their terms and conditions and practices in order to avoid warning letters and expensive legal proceedings. The case makes it clear that consumer associations have an important function as “watchdogs” for compliance with consumer protection rules.