Quoted: Facebook accused of ‘trampling’ on privacy laws in Europe

“The way in which (Facebook) is contemptuous of the private lives of its members and of all Internet users demands action.”

Willem Debeuckelaere, president of Belgium’s Privacy Commission, which has released a report criticizing the social network’s practices and calling for the company to make changes or risk facing legal action.

In March, the commission released research that showed Facebook tracks logged-off users, as well as Web surfers who aren’t signed up for Facebook but visit sites that use Facebook plugins such as its Like button. Facebook told the Wall Street Journal that the tracking of non-users is the result of a bug that it’s working to fix. The Guardian noted that EU privacy law requires prior consent before users can be tracked.

Last month, I wrote about a class-action lawsuit, filed in Austria, targeting Facebook. Among its accusations is Facebook’s tracking of Internet users on external websites. The suit also accuses Facebook of giving the NSA direct access to its servers under the Prism program.

Facebook’s responses to all this action has been consistent. It insists that it is complying with European law. Of the Belgian recommendations released today, Facebook seemed to say it answers only to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, where its European headquarters is based.

“Facebook is already regulated in Europe and complies with European data protection law, so the applicability of the [Belgium regulator’s] efforts are unclear,” a Facebook spokesperson said, according to the Guardian. “But we will of course review the recommendations when we receive them with our European regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.”

Queenie Wong wrote that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday said during a town hall meeting that he favored the recently proposed “digital single market” in Europe, which would consolidate different tech policies throughout the region.


Photo from AFP/Getty Images


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  • aticusfinch

    Pretty sad that Americans have rolled over so willingly for the massive raping of personal privacy by FB and others. The horse is out of the barn and long gone. Best wishes to the EU on this one