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16 Feb, 2018 16:21

Belgian court orders Facebook to stop collecting data on citizens, threatens fines of up to $125mn

Belgian court orders Facebook to stop collecting data on citizens, threatens fines of up to $125mn

A Belgian court has ordered Facebook to stop collecting data about the country's citizens, and to delete information previously gathered. It threatened to fine the social network €250,000 a day if it fails to comply.

In its ruling, the court determined that Facebook does not adequately inform users that it is collecting information. “Facebook informs us insufficiently about gathering information about us, the kind of data it collects, what it does with that data and how long it stores it," the court said, determining the social network had broken privacy laws. “It also does not gain our consent to collect and store all this information.”

The court also noted that Facebook uses various methods to track the online behavior of people who aren’t members of the website, by placing cookies and invisible pixels on third-party sites.

If Facebook fails to comply with the court’s judgment, it will be fined €250,000 (US$311,232) per day, with a cap of €100 million.

The case came after the Privacy Commission watchdog filed a case against Facebook in June 2015. At the time, the social network said it was confident there was no merit in the case, calling the watchdog’s decision to take it to court “theatrical.” 

Facebook previously said it was only subject to laws in Ireland, the site of its European headquarters. It also described cookies as being industry standard, stressing that internet users had the option to opt out.

The Friday ruling comes after Spain’s data protection watchdog fined Facebook €1.2mn in September, also saying the social network breached laws designed to protect people’s information and confidentiality. In December 2016, the European Union fined Facebook €110 million after finding it guilty of providing misleading information before winning approval to buy the messaging app WhatsApp in 2014. 

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