Following a court ruling, Facebook stops Belgian non-users from viewing their pages. This means that the social network cannot track people who don’t have accounts on the website. This forces people to create or sign in their accounts in order to see the content of its pages.
Before the Belgian Privacy Commission order, Belgian non-users could freely see the pages of celebrities, sports teams, business pages or locations without being forced to create an account.
You could find these pages using only a search engine as it was public content, a Facebook representative stated.
The dispute swirls around the “datr” cookies, which are said to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate visitors and claimed to identify the browsers and not the users. Facebook states that the cookie helped secure Belgian users from more than 30,000 takeover attempts last month.
However, technical experts from Belgian Privacy Commission concluded that once the visitor without a Facebook account enters the website, the datr cookie is kept for two years.
The company was taken to court in June as it was stated that the policy presumably violates the EU regulations and is hurting the privacy of Internet users.
They argued that Belgium has no authority in this matter as it has its headquarters in Ireland, so it the case should be evaluated there. The regulators stated that the Brussel court gave the ruling, which means it has jurisdiction over the company.
If Facebook doesn’t comply with the ruling of the court, they risk a fine of 250,000 euros per day. The regulator will serve the order to the company sometime this week.
Facebook users have to set their browsers to save the datr cookie in order to protect them from attacks on the website. It will let them know whether the visitor is an attacker or not.
This decision affects a lot of businesses as most of them used Facebook to promote their services to the public.
Paul Bernal of the University of East Anglia believes the ruling will be applied not only to Belgium, but also other countries, as it’s a European Law. He also claims we should expect more countries to contest the Facebook security tracking as well.
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