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Facebook To Fight Belgian Court Mandate To Stop Tracking Browsing Behavior
Facebook contends tracking is about security, court says privacy rights violated.
Like Google, Facebook is under fire in Europe from privacy regulators. Today, the company said it would appeal a decision by a court in Belgium that ordered Facebook to stop collecting data on users’ browsing behavior when they’re not logged in to the site.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by the Belgian privacy authority. It arises in the broader context of Belgian complaints about Facebook privacy practices more generally. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook faces immediate fines and must stop all monitoring of non-logged-in user behavior within 48 hours:
Local media reported Monday evening that a Brussels commercial court had ruled that Facebook must stop within 48 hours the collection of data on users’ Internet browsing when they are not logged in. If they didn’t stop, then Facebook would face a daily fine of €250,000 ($269,000), the reports said.
Facebook said it would appeal the decision in a statement provided to the WSJ: “We’ve used the data cookie for more than five years to keep Facebook secure for 1.5 billion people around the world. We will appeal this decision and are working to minimize any disruption to people’s access to Facebook in Belgium.”
Controversy surrounding Facebook user tracking and privacy practices has existed for some time both in the US and Europe, although there’s little government investigative or regulatory action in the US. In response to a growing number of European complaints and investigations, Facebook signaled, like Google, it was taking a more defiant stance toward European regulators.
According to the WSJ article, Facebook argues that its browsing behavior tracking is necessary for security reasons. If the company can successfully make that argument — it’s not about mining user data and ad targeting but fending off bots, spam and malware — the company has a chance to succeed on appeal.
It’s probably a slim chance, however.