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Belgian Court Orders Facebook To Stop Collection Of User Data Or Face Fines

Belgian Court Orders Facebook To Stop Collection Of User Data Or Face Fines
Collection of users’ data by Facebook in Belgium has been banned by a local court there. The company has also been warned of daily fines of €250,000 a day, totaling up to €100 million if it does not follow the court order.
The issue had turned out into a protracted battle between the social media platform and the Belgian commission for the protection of privacy (CPP) and which resulted in the court case, where the court has found Facebook to have violated privacy laws through its act of tracking people on third-party sites.
“Facebook informs us insufficiently about gathering information about us, the kind of data it collects, what it does with that data and how long it stores it,” the court said. “It also does not gain our consent to collect and store all this information.”
The court order also mandates that Facebook immediately delete all of the data about Belgian citizens that it has already gathered – including of those individuals who are not members of the social media site.
The court said that Facebook places cookies and invisible pixels on websites of third parties as one of its ways to get too know the online behavior of people not on its web site. 
Facebook wanted to appeal against the verdict because it was disappointed with it, said Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy for EMEA. “The cookies and pixels we use are industry standard technologies and enable hundreds of thousands of businesses to grow their businesses and reach customers across the EU.
“We require any business that uses our technologies to provide clear notice to end-users, and we give people the right to opt-out of having data collected on sites and apps off Facebook being used for ads”, Allan said.
It was way back in 2015 that the CPP had commissioned a report prepared by researchers from the University of Leuven. The report claimed that Facebook had breached Eu law on privacy by using cookies for tracking of all of the visitors and not getting explicit consent of such visitors. Later in 2015, a case was filed in court by the CPP against Facebook alleging that the company had violated both Belgian and EU laws on privacy as the agency does not possess powers to penalise companies directly. An attempt to settle the issue with Facebook had also failed.
Facebook was threatened with fines by the court at the end of 2015 while ordering the social media company to stop tracking of the non-members of the platform. Facebook had argued that Belgium did not have any jurisdiction over it because its European headquarters are placed at Dublin and had challenged the court order – appealing against it at the beginning of 2016. The social media company also challenged the use of English words like browser and cookie in the court order claiming that only Dutch, French or German may be used according to Belgian laws.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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