Belgian's national privacy watchdog is suing Facebook for allegedly breaching both Belgian and European privacy laws for the way that it tracks the behavior of both members and non-members.
According to EUobserver
, this is the first time a European privacy commission has sued Facebook for its non-compliance with regards to privacy laws.
Earlier this year, the Belgian Privacy Commission
issued a report
revealing that Facebook’s policies around profiling for third-party advertising did not “meet the requirements for legally valid consent.”
The report also found that the social media platform “[failed] to offer adequate control mechanisms” regarding the use of member-generated content for commercial purposes.
“Facebook places too much burden on its users. Users are expected to navigate Facebook’s complex web of settings in search of possible opt-outs,” wrote the authors, as quoted by The Guardian. “Facebook’s default settings related to behavioural profiling or Social Ads, for example, are particularly problematic.”
As a result of the report's findings, the Commission insisted
last month that Facebook amend its policies and seek the explicit consent of its users for the use of serving/behavioral ads.
Since then, however, the social media site has allegedly been difficult to contact by the Belgian Privacy Commission
. This is in spite of the fact that it publicly challenged the Commission's report
back in April.
“Over the past week, a team of privacy experts and engineers at Facebook analyzed the claims presented in a recent report authored by a group of researchers in Belgium. Our findings: The report gets it wrong multiple times in asserting how Facebook uses information to provide our service to more than a billion people around the world,” Facebook said in its post.
Facebook has also went on to publish a wider-ranging op-ed in the Financial Times criticizing overreaching European privacy regulators
News of the lawsuit, which is expected to go to trial on Thursday, June 18, follows several months after a security researcher discovered a serious privacy vulnerability
that could potentially allow hackers to access the private photos of millions of Facebook users.