Furious Flems fling privacy rule book at Facebook

Free content ad network faces Thursday court date

Belgium has made good on its promise to take action over Facebook’s privacy breaches, and will haul Zuck's ad empire into court on Thursday.

A recent report for the Commission de Protection de la Vie Privée (CPVP) said Facebook trampled users’ rights, tracking them across the web whether they want it or not. Unable to fine the bragsite directly, the CPVP has taken the litigious route.

Summary proceedings before the Civil Court of First Instance in Brussels will take place on Thursday. However, Facebook argues that as a company based in Ireland, it reviewed its privacy policy with the Irish DPA and Belgium does not have jurisdiction.

President of the Belgian privacy commission, Willem Debeuckelaere, told local publication De Morgen that Facebook is in breach of EU law as well as the Belgian Data Protection Act.

Debeuckelaere’s biggest concern is Facebook’s collection of information from third-party sites that include the “Like” button, as well as possible use of personal data to target advertising.

Last month, the CPVP advised people to use do-not-track services like Ghostery, Blur and Disconnect to protect themselves from Facebook’s massive data slurp.

Although the Belgies are the first to take court action against the distraction site, a pan-EU probe is also underway, with the Belgians working alongside Dutch and German regulators, as well as the pan-European Article 29 data protection group.

Europe’s current data protection law is a directive, meaning that it is written into national law differently in the different EU countries. But with a breakthrough last week in negotiations for a General Data Protection Regulation – to be applied in the same way throughout the EU – this battle of jurisdictions could soon be a thing of the past.

But it may be too little, too late for FB. ®

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