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December 3, 2015

Facebook Changes Tracking Policy in Belgium

Social Network Says It Still Plans to Appeal Court's Ruling

Facebook will now require users to log in to view pages on its social network — a response to a Belgium court’s ruling that it can no longer track Belgians who are not members of its site.

Although Facebook said it plans to appeal the decision of the Belgium court, cookies will not be used for non-users and accounts will be mandatory to access public content.

Prior to the ruling Facebook had been installing cookies when a person, member or not, visited its website. Facebook said it has used the Datr cookie for more than five years to “keep Facebook secure for 1.5 billion people around the world.”

The Belgian court found fault with this practice, however, saying Facebook first must obtain consent from Internet users before collecting data.

A Facebook spokeswoman told the BBC it had hoped to address the Belgian Privacy Commissioner’s concerns “in a way that allowed us to continue using a security cookie that protected Belgian people from more than 33,000 takeover attempts in the past month.”

“We’re disappointed we were unable to reach an agreement and now people will be required to log in or register for an account to see publicly available content on Facebook,” she added.

If the social network did not comply with the court’s ruling, it would have been slapped with a fine of up to 250,000 euros per day. Any monies collected would have gone to the Belgian Privacy Commission, which initiated the case against Facebook.

The Belgian Privacy Commission launched the lawsuit against the social network in June, accusing the firm of refusing to recognize Belgian and EU privacy laws.

The lawsuit was an escalation of the recommendation issued by the Commission in May in which it berated the social media giant, saying the company treats users’ personal data “with contempt.”

Facebook is also in the crosshairs of other country’s privacy regulators, including those in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority, which oversees online privacy for the Netherlands, has taken issue with the social network’s policy for handling users’ photos and data. The policy changes in question hand Facebook the right to use its members’ information and images for commercial purposes.



Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.