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Government Privacy Social Networks The Internet

Facebook Must Stop Tracking Belgian Users, Court Rules (mercurynews.com) 83

Facebook must stop tracking Belgian users' surfing outside the social network and delete data it's already gathered, or it will face fines of 250,000 ($312,000) euros a day, a Belgian court ruled. From a report: Facebook "doesn't sufficiently inform" clients about the data it gathers on their broader web use, nor does it explain what it does with the information or say how long it stores it, the Brussels Court of First Instance said in a statement. The social network is coming under increasing fire in Europe, with a high-profile German antitrust probe examining whether it unfairly compels users to sign up to restrictive privacy terms. Belgium's data-protection regulators have targeted the company since at least 2015 when a court ordered it to stop storing non-users' personal data.
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Facebook Must Stop Tracking Belgian Users, Court Rules

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  • Do it or.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Friday February 16, 2018 @04:43PM (#56137332)

    That fine isn't enough to really deter Facebook, unfortunately. I'm not sure why fines aren't put as a percentage of income.

    That said, Belgium is actually standing up to tracking companies.

    • That fine is 0.25% of facebook's revenue, or 5% of their profit. They sure as hell are going to pay attention to a fine that size.

      • The fine is 15MM euro a month. Dec. 2017 they had 10,451 MM euro in revenue. That's not close to 0.25%, it's 0.15%. But their month over month revenue growth is huge, and year over year as well. So that's likely to be far lower than that already.

        If they're still in growth mode (ala Uber) then losing money to fines to lock things down is expected. It's not clear they can grow to more users, but they can grow more intrusively into their lives.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You need to compare it to their profits or revenue for Belguim though. Belgium is small.
          You can bet it will be significant to their interest in doing business in Belgium.

          And don't think that fine won't raise if they just ignore it. Especially if the entire EU smells a free revenue stream, or it merely becomes EU wide for other reasons.

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

          But how about their revenue in Belgium where this is an issue right now?

          The next step is the EU GDPR [eugdpr.org] directive, that one is going to be a royal pain in the butt for Facebook and similar services. At the EU level the fines would be higher.

          Lawful Basis For Processing
          Data can only be processed if there is at least one lawful basis to do so[15]. The lawful bases for processing data are:

          the data subject has given consent to the processing of his or her personal data for one or more

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      250k/day for the local Facebook subsidiary is significant, and only the start. If they ignore it then the regulator can apply for further sanctions, contempt of court etc. Facebook staff can potentially go to jail.

    • That said, Belgium is actually standing up to tracking companies.

      You know, there's not much I'd like to see of Europe brought into the US (its ok for them, but I like things mostly how they are here).....BUT, I would like to see privacy rights and some restrictions on the unfettered gathering and sharing/selling of people's data by companies like FB.

      I'd especially like it, if FB was mandated to remove any information or 'shadow' profiles of people that have NEVER even opted to join FB.

      There are reasons p

      • Re:Do it or.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Friday February 16, 2018 @05:12PM (#56137666) Homepage

        There are reasons people don't join FB and there is no reason for Facebook to gather, store and track people that are not a member of their site/organization.

        There's every reason to track non-members. You may not think it's fair, but your data is valuable and it's going to get collected, used, and sold whether you like it or not. There are steps you can take to slow that down (like not signing up for FB), but you're not going to stop it without help from the lawmakers.

        • There are steps you can take to slow that down (like not signing up for FB), but you're not going to stop it without help from the lawmakers.

          That was the point of my post, I was saying while I'm not in favor of most of what I consider intrusive, oppressive and anti-freedom type European laws and regulations on most things, I'm quite in favor of this type of thing, and with the US lawmakers would put forth some legislation such as Belgium did here.

        • Didn't cayenne8 literally just say that this is something they would like to see done more like Europe, where these things are restricted by law?

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          Yes, but given that non-members have NOT agreed to the T&C, what legal right does FB have to track them?

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            The question isn't "What right do they have?" The question is "What's going to stop them?"

            • And the answer is "EU law".

              • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

                Actually the answer is all Facebook IP addresses will be censored out of existence across the entire EU. They could even demand the set up EU only servers and all data stored in the respective countries only, which pretty much seems on the cards. Once you charge for advertising in a country and target it's citizens with advertisements, you are pretty much stitched up or you accept ceasing operations in those locations. The hate for Facebook seems to be growing in countries, likely just the initial push for

                • by freax ( 80371 )

                  "But the investor's traditional Davos predictions do not always pan out. Last year in Switzerland he warned that the stock market rally would end after Trump's election and that China's growth rate was unsustainable.

                  China's growth has continued while US stocks are regularly hitting record highs."

                  So basically, Soros is an 87 years old dude with a lot of opinions? Welcome to the club, Soros. *hug*.

        • There's every reason to track non-members. You may not think it's fair, but your data is valuable and it's going to get collected, used, and sold whether you like it or not. There are steps you can take to slow that down (like not signing up for FB), but you're not going to stop it without help from the lawmakers.

          There's every reason to take the wallets from people walking down the street. You may not think it's fair, but your wallet is valuable and it's going to get taken from you at gunpoint whether you

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            IIRC the lawmakers addressed that one.

            • Since you were responding to someone who said "I hope this is made illegal" with some nonsense about why the data is valuable, my response stating equivalence between the states is valid. You have to explain why one is legal and the other not.

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            Facebook is more like a pick pocket, a smart one who removes your wallet, copies your credit card numbers or just takes one bill and returns it without you even noticing (usually). No guns need to be involved.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        You know, there's not much I'd like to see of Europe brought into the US

        Belgian chocolate? Belgian beer (oh wait, They already own Anheuser Bush)

    • Of course if Facebook decides it is more profitable to pay the fine, then they are opening the door for more governments to make such a rule, so they can bring in Facebook bucks into their economy. $113,880,000 a year which can fund some nice project. So if Facebook pays other countries may want in too. If they follow the same principal of about $10 per citizen a year. That can chew up a lot of money very quickly.

      It will probably be a better plan for Facebook to fix the issue to comply with the law, if no

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      $312000/day = $114 million/day. Seems significant for a country of 10 million.
    • I always wonder at what point in these European rulings Facebook would just take their cards and go home and shut down all Belgian accounts.

      Somehow, I don't think such a thing would go over that well for politicians in Belgium.

      Things are going to reach that point for some of these tech companies sooner or later. If a country becomes unprofitable to do business in, then they'll just leave.

    • Yes yes punish them pleeeease. Fucking Facebook nazies
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday February 16, 2018 @04:48PM (#56137396)

    Welcome to Facebook!

    In order to determine if you are a Belgian user, Facebook now requires access to:

    * Your photo library
    * Your location for the last five years
    * Certain medical records
    * Microphone always on to detect Belgian accent
    * All history of waffle making

    • by freax ( 80371 )

      Just make a CAPTCHA displaying the number 90. If they type "nonante", they are Belgian. If they type wa is da hier? They are Belgian.

  • General Electronic System Tracking All People Online can only be done by the governments. Private companies should not muscle into the Government functions.
  • Belgium doesn't exist! It's all one big conspiracy! https://zapatopi.net/belgium/ [zapatopi.net]

    (But still, I'm glad that my government is taking action against Facebook. Let's hope the other EU nations join in on the fun)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ....we give people the right to opt-out of having data collected on sites and apps off Facebook being used for ads.”

    They don't give anything. First you have to find how to do it. Second, you can only turn off certain things. Third, they automatically opt-in on their own again after turning off

    Fourth, I don't even use that crap facebook because I have a life, but they are tracking me. Samsun put a facecrap app on my phone as a default and I can't uninstall it. I disable it but after system updates, it's enabled again.

  • That's news. I thought it broke up years ago.
  • Trust me on this, the Canadian Constitution is very clear.

  • OK... where do I sign up to become Belgian! First waffles, now this. Belgium is the place to be.

    • So, if this law is enforced, just going to throw this out there, might it be possible to change location to someplace in Belgium? A little spoofing might force Facebook to clear all your existing internet history?

    • by freax ( 80371 )

      Website http://www.dofi.fgov.be/ [dofi.fgov.be]
      Antwerpsesteenweg 59 B
      1000 Brussel
      Telefoonnummer: 02 793 80 00

  • Citizen? Resident? The article didn't seem to make that clear.

    • by nashv ( 1479253 )

      It applies to all residents of Belgium. Typically it means if you use Facebook from within the jurisdiction of Belgian law.

  • Belgium's data-protection regulators have targeted the company since at least 2015 when a court ordered it to stop storing non-users' personal data.

    Since this is not a serious screenplay, please do not use the B-word on Slashdot!

    The next thing you know, you'll be inviting Krikkitmen here!

  • The EU politicians don't want to be tracked.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Translation EU politicians are not as easy to buy a US politicians.

  • by Stan92057 ( 737634 ) on Friday February 16, 2018 @08:43PM (#56139118)
    Windows 10 is data mining and more on mega levels, far passing anything FB is doing.
  • Of course I didn't read TFA. But if I have a Facebook account will switching my country to Belgium be of any advantage?

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