Belgian court orders Facebook to stop tracking people who are not Facebook members

Belgian court orders Facebook to stop tracking people who are not Facebook members

On Monday, an order by a Belgian court banned US-based social network Facebook from tracking Internet users who do not have Facebook accounts.

In its order, the court asked Facebook to stop -- within 48 hours -- the tracking of Internet users who are not signed on to the social networking website. The court also said that, in case of non-compliance, Facebook would face a penalty of up to EUR 250,000 ($269,000) per day, to be paid to the Belgian Privacy Commission.

The Belgium court’s order to Facebook has come in a lawsuit filed Belgium's privacy watchdog in June this year. In its complaint, Belgium's privacy watchdog drew attention to Facebook’s indiscriminate tracking of Internet users – even those who are not Facebook members - when they visit pages on the social networking site, or click on the ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons.

The legal scuffle between Facebook and Belgium’s privacy watchdog specifically revolves around the use of a special cookie – called ‘datr’ – by Facebook. According to the company’s claims, the cookie enables it to ascertain which visits to the website are legitimate and which are illegitimate.

In response to the Belgian court’s order, which Facebook said it would appeal, a Facebook spokesperson said on Monday: "We've used the datr security cookie for more than five years to keep Facebook secure for 1.5 billion people around the world. We will appeal this decision and are working to minimize any disruption to people's access to Facebook in Belgium.”

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