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February 9, 2016

France Orders Facebook to Halt Tracking of Non-Members

Social Network Given Three Months to Comply

Flickr photo by Maria Elena

The French data protection authority has given Facebook just three months to halt all tracking of non-members of its social network in France.

France’s Commission Nationale de L’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) in a statement today criticized Facebook not only for collecting data on people’s browsing activities but also for using cookies that have an advertising purpose without informing or obtaining consent from Internet users.

“The purpose of this notice is not to decide on the company’s behalf which practical measures must be implemented, but rather to ensure that it complies with the law, without such compliance having any negative impact on its business model or innovation capacity,” the CNIL said in its press release.

“The formal notice is made public due to the seriousness of the violations and the number of individuals concerned by the Facebook service (more than 30 million users in France).”

The CNIL also demanded Facebook cease personal data transfers to the U.S. now that the Safe Harbor agreement between the United States and the European Union has ended.

The CNIL noted its ruling was not a sanction — yet — and the matter would be shelved with no further ramifications if Facebook complies. If Facebook fails to do so within the three-month timeframe, it is likely the company will be slapped with a fine.

The ruling should come as no surprise. European data protection officials have been asking Facebook to refrain from tracking all Europeans who are not members of its site for quite some time.

And, after the social network announced it would require Belgian users to log in to view pages on its social network in response to a Belgium court ruling, other EU data protection authorities began clamoring for the same action in their countries.

Facebook said last December it planned to appeal the decision of the Belgium court but, in the meantime, cookies would not be used for non-users and accounts would be mandatory to access public content.

It is likely Facebook will now apply the same measures for French users.

While that will pacify the CNIL, the data protection authorities of The Netherlands, Spain and Hamburg will likely be issuing similar rulings to force Facebook to take that action in their countries as well.


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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