The Belgium Privacy Commission, which tried to prevent Facebook from tracking non-users online, just lost to the U.S. tech giant in court over a slippery argument.
The Brussels Court of Appeal ruled that the case is not within its jurisdictional reach as Facebook servers storing data on Belgian (non-)users are located in Ireland.
The lawsuit became public in November when a lower Belgian court ordered the Silicon Valley firm to stop planting tracking “datr” cookies on non-users devices every time they visit a public Facebook page.
The court asked Facebook to stop using the cookies on Internet users that don’t have a Facebook account or browse a Facebook page not logged in an account within 48 hours. If the tech behemoth took longer than that to comply with the ruling, it was forced to pay €250,000 in fines every day.
That lower court said that the commission was right when it argued that the American site broke the country’s privacy laws when it declined to say what was doing with the data and failed to ask for users’ consent.
Apparently, anyone who “liked” something on Facebook or shared it with friends had a tracking cookie planted on their electronic devices. That cookie recorded everything the user accessed online while not on Facebook. It is almost certain that the company later sells the data to advertisers.
In response, Facebook, which formally agreed to end the practice, blocked any non-user with a Belgian IP from accessing its website if the user wasn’t logged into the social media platform.
The firm argued that the move was the “only feasible” method to prevent the site’s security from being compromised. Additionally, it filed an appeal against the ruling with the Brussels Court of Appeal.
The higher court decided that Facebook hasn’t infringed any privacy laws as it has been using those tracking cookies since 2011 to keep the site secure. The court also said that the company removes the data after 10 days.
But the most disturbing argument was that the lower court used the English terminology of “server,” “browser,” and “cookies” rather than the Belgian one so its decision should be overturned.
However, Facebook won in court because its headquarters and servers are located in Ireland not in Belgium. The court ruled the case should be deferred to Irish authorities as it lacks an international jurisdiction.
Image Source: Pixabay