On Monday a court in Belgium has said that Facebook must stop tracking users who aren’t signed into the site within 48 hours, or suffer a fine of 250,000 Euros per day that the order is violated.
The court stated that Facebook uses a cookie associated with a web user’s device when they visit a Facebook page even if they’re not logged in. The cookie can be stored for two years and allows Facebook to access its data when the user visits any Facebook page or when they go to pages which contain recommended links.
The judge in the case states that Facebook was tracking users without their permission, but a company spokesperson said that its cookie, know as the “datr” cookie, was safe:
“We’ve used the datr 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”.
And in June this year, the country’s privacy body said Facebook tracked people when they visit pages on other sites and use “like” and “share” buttons on those pages.
Furthermore, the “Safe Harbor” transatlantic agreement that governs lawful data transfers was said to be invalid according to a European court order last month, which puts Facebook in a weak position.
There is currently a new agreement being drafted, but at this point nobody knows whether it will harm Facebook’s prospects in Europe.
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.