Published On: Sun, May 17th, 2015

Facebook Accused of ‘Trampling’ On The Privacy Rights of Europeans

The Accusation comes in a Belgian government report.


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Facebook continues to violate its users’ privacy as well as European regulations. This according to a new report released by the Belgian Privacy Protection Commission.

Specifically, the Commission said that Facebook “Tramples” on people’s privacy rights.

The report was commissioned back in January after Facebook announced changes to its privacy policies in response to concerns raised by European authorities. The Authority has criticized Facebook for refusing to cooperate with its review and ignoring its inquiries.

It dealt, among other things, with how Facebook uses cookies to track people who are not registered with the website. It does so to people who visit websites associated with Facebook and which are integrated into it with the site’s “like” and “share” buttons.

The report concludes by calling on Facebook to have more transparency in how it uses cookies and must refrain from “systematically placing long-life and unique identifier cookies with non-users of Facebook, as well as from collecting and using data by means of social plug-ins unless it obtains the data subjects’ unambiguous and specific consent through an opt-in and to the extent that this is strictly necessary for legitimate purposes.”

It also said that Facebook must provide its users an unambiguous and specific opt-in for collecting and using data through cookies and social plug-ins, and give them complete information about this.

“The way in which [Facebook] is contemptuous of the private lives of its members and of all Internet users demands action, ” Willem Debeuckelaere, the commission’s president, stated. “It’s make or break time” for Facebook, he added.

[Read the full report here.]

In response, Facebook stated that it, “is already regulated in Europe and complies with European data protection law, so the applicability of the CBPL’s efforts are unclear. But we will of course review the recommendations when we receive them with our European regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.”

In a blog post, Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President of Policy, Europe, asserted that the company had a team of privacy experts review the claims made in the report. The company, he said, found multiple mistakes in the report. The post then listed those mistakes.

Allan added, “Facebook does receive standard “web impressions, ” or website visit information, when people visit sites with our plugins or other integrations. The authors misleadingly call this “tracking.” Unlike many companies, we explain how we will use this information and the controls we honor and offer. And, we apply the choices people make before using information for behavioral ads.”

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