Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) can continue using cookies to track internet user data in Belgium, at least for now. A new ruling allows Facebook to continue using its “datr” cookie to track the online activity of both its users and non-users, in line with its new advertising plans.
The case against the social network giant.
Facebook was taken to court by the Belgian Privacy Commission last year. According to the Belgium’s privacy watchdog, by tracking non-user data, Facebook was violating the European Union privacy law. Facebook lost the case in the first ruling, where a commercial court in Brussels ordered the social network market leader to stop tracking non-user data in 48 hours or face daily fines of £250,000. Facebook heeded the court’s ruling but promised to appeal.
It is the ruling after the appeal that Facebook is now celebrating. The ruling by the Brussels Appeals court stated that the Irish Data Protection Commissioners, not the Belgium Privacy Commission has jurisdiction over Facebook’s use of European data. The ruling means that Facebook can now track any Belgian’s internet activity without fear.
It is not over yet
A Facebook spokeswoman welcomed the ruling, announcing that Facebook was happy to resume its fully-fledged operations in Belgium. However, it may be too early to celebrate, with the Belgian data authority already planning to appeal the decision with the court of Cassation. This court can only throw the earlier ruling, but cannot make a new one.
It was just the other day when Facebook announced that it would be targeting non-users in its new advertising strategy, called the Audience Network. This move has not been without its fair share of obstacles, with data regulators in France and Germany also warning Facebook to stop using cookies to track the online activity of internet users or face hefty fines. Netherlands and others could file similar cases, and Facebook may just have a difficult time trying to operationalize its Audience network.