Privacy Commission and Facebook meet in court

Arguments in the case of the Privacy Commission (known as the “CPVP”) versus the social network Facebook (Facebook Ireland Ltd and Facebook Belgium SPRL) began on Thursday in the Brussels Regional Court.

The Privacy Commission says that Facebook is illegally collecting data on the Internet navigation behaviour of Internet users. This is not being done solely for security reasons but also for the purposes of placing adverts, which is a gross violation of the privacy of all such individuals.

Facebook uses what the Commission refers to as “mass surveillance”. This involves three monitoring technologies that the business has itself developed and marketed.

Specifically these are known as “social plug-ins”, such as the “like” and “share” facilities, cookies and pixels, which Facebook makes available to site users. By using these it is gathering information on the behaviour of Internet users, without them knowing.

The CPVP says that Facebook is gathering data in large volumes in this way. It is not complying with the legal conditions of use for the site. The Commission’s legal representatives argue, “The information which Facebook has stated is vague, incomplete and misleading.” In the eyes of the Privacy Commission, Facebook is allowing its commercial interest to impact upon the fundamental rights of users.

The Commission is demanding that Facebook ends this uncurbed monitoring of the navigation behaviour of Internet users, and should otherwise risk incurring a fine of €250,000 per day. The lawyers for Facebook are putting their client’s case today.

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