Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

Facebook allowed to collect data on non-users in Belgium

  • Facebook allowed to track people in Belgium even if they are non-users. (Photo: Maurizio Pesce)

An appeals court in Belgium earlier this week ruled in favour of allowing Facebook to amass data on people in the country who are not registered users of the social media giant.

The ruling reverses a previous court decision that had imposed a tracking ban on Facebook following revelations it was collecting information on non-Facebook users and others who were not logged into their accounts.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“Belgian courts don’t have international jurisdiction over Facebook Ireland, where the data concerning Europe is processed,” said the appeals court.

But Belgium's privacy watchdog, the Commission for the Protection of Privacy, said the latest ruling means a Belgian resident will be unable to "obtain the protection of his private life through the courts and tribunals when it concerns foreign actors".

The head of the watchdog, Willem Debeuckelaere, said Belgians "remain exposed to massive violations of their privacy".

Facebook places special cookies on people's computers without their permission.

The small files track the internet activity of logged-out users as well as those that had opted out of being tracked.

University researchers in Belgium had revealed the privacy breaches in a report published last year.

They found Facebook uses its social plugins, such as the 'like' button, to monitor the activity. The button has been placed on health and government sites.

The US tech giant, for its part, says the cookies are needed for security reasons.

"We are pleased with the court’s decision and look forward to bringing all our services back online for people in Belgium," said Facebook in a statement.

Feature

EU to analyse role of Facebook and Google

The EU will start an assessment into the role of online platforms. But the increased influence of internet companies has already been discussed by 'internet critics' for several years.

News in Brief

  1. House prices up by 15 percent in EU since 2010
  2. China 'most trade-restrictive partner' for the EU
  3. EU court rules against German highway toll for non-residents
  4. French most sceptical on safety of vaccines
  5. Facebook 'currency' met with scepticism in Europe
  6. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  7. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  8. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. What's going on in Moldova - and what next?
  2. EU officials prepare for US extravaganza on Palestine
  3. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  4. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  5. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  6. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  7. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  8. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us