Facebook loses Belgian privacy case, faces fine up to US$125 million


A Belgian court on Friday ordered Facebook to stop tracking internet users in the country who do not have accounts with the United States social media giant, or face heavy fines.

The Brussels Court of First Instance, which has jurisdiction in all disputes that are not assigned by law to other courts, has warned Facebook to quit tracking Belgian citizens' online habits, and to delete all the data it holds on them, or else it will have to pay a €100m fine.

"Facebook does not inform us enough about the fact that it collects information about us, about the nature of the information it collects about us, about what it does with that information and about how long it stores that information", he added.

According to the court, besides tracking unregistered users who click "like" or "share" buttons on Facebook pages, even when they have no registered account, Facebook also tracks visitors of roughly 10,000 third-party websites via invisible pixels put on those sites.

A Belgian court has ordered the company to stop collecting personal data of users or face daily fines of €250,000 a day, or up to €100m.

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Richard Allan, vice president of public policy for EMEA at Facebook, expressed disappointment in the court's decision and noted the social networking giant would appeal the verdict.

The case was brought by watchdog the Belgian Privacy Commission in June 2015.

Since it is not within CPP's power to directly penalize organizations, it dragged Facebook to the court accusing the company of "trampling" over Belgian and European Union privacy law.

Facebook said it was "disappointed" by the verdict. Facebook is now running a big campaign stressing the importance of privacy. The court ruled the data was gathered illegally.