In a year long battle between Facebook Inc and Belgium’s Data Protection Authority, a decision has finally been made; some say, a decision which was totally unprecedented. The Belgian Privacy Commission lost its case to stop Facebook from tracking the activity on non-users accessing their site, after previously winning the case against the social network last year.
Originally, courts ruled in favour of the data protection regulator in Belgium, which meant that Facebook had to stop tracking those who visited the site but were not members. Facebook were told to comply with the new rules or face a fine of up to 250,000 Euros per day. The social networking giant did stop the use of the ‘datr’ cookie immediately for Belgian users, but vowed to appeal the ruling.
After a lengthy battle, the courts have now ruled in favour of Facebook after admitting that the data protection authority in Belgium had no authority over the use of Europeans’ data on the site. Why? Because the European HQ of Facebook is in Ireland, meaning that only the Irish Data Protection Commissioner had a say in what could and couldn’t be tracked.
Facebook has been using their ‘datr’ cookie for five years, in order to track those who visit any pages on the website and argue that it helped keep their services secure. Data is also removed within 10 days, the social network argued.
However, it’s not over there. Belgium’s Data Protection Authority have said that they will lodge a final appeal with the Court of Cassation over the decision, in order to get it reversed. President of the Belgian Privacy Commission, Willem Debeuckelaere, has expressed concerns over the privacy of non-Facebook users having their data collected and believes it is an invasion of a person’s private life. It will be interesting to see if there’s yet another new outcome in this ongoing case.