Continuing on the recent Belgian legal build up against Facebook, a Belgian Court has now ruled that Facebook could be fined up to $269,000 a day, if it does not bring an end to its policy of storing data from people who do not use Facebook. The court has ordered the company to stop its practice within the next 48 hours if it wishes to avoid the hefty penalty.
The court ruled the decision in favour of a privacy watchdog group that had sued the social network in the court when it discovered that the company was not adhering to the privacy laws of the country.
For all those 5 Billion + who are still not on Facebook, the social network keeps track of non- Facebook users through a cookie technology that keeps track of their internet activity for at least two years after they have visited a page on the website.
Facebook in reply, has filed an appeal against the ruling and stated that it is bound by the privacy laws of Ireland and not of Belgium as its European headquarter is based in the former.
Facebook’s privacy policies have come under the scanner before, when countries such as the Netherlands protested against its data tracking system that was newly introduced by the company only last year.
Other American tech giants including Google, have found themselves red faced in the past after the European Court of Justice ruled against an agreement that allowed the companies to keep track of user activity and exchange sensitive information between Europe and US through the policy of Safe Harbour framework.
This latest decision by the Belgian court was backed by substantial research conducted by the Privacy Commission. The research revealed that Facebook firmly kept a track of all visitors – Facebook users or not. Even if a Facebook user had opted out of this policy, it still kept a track of the user’s activity.
With this ruling the tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google are no longer eligible to exchange data gathered from tracking visitors between Europe and US. The ruling applies to whole of Europe as the Belgian Privacy Commission comes under the European task force.
Last month, the Court of Justice of the European Union effectively, which regulated data flows across the Atlantic. It’s still not clear how that situation will be resolved, leaving Facebook and companies like Google and Twitter with a great deal of uncertainty about their future in Europe.