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Belgian Facebook Restricted By Privacy Law

Belgian Facebook Restricted By Privacy Law

European Privacy laws are much stricter than the laws in the US. And lately, Facebook has been hit by a privacy ruling in Belgium which states that all Belgian Facebook users have to sign in to view Facebook pages.

In other words, anyone who does not have a Facebook account in Belgium cannot visit or view the Facebook pages, not even pages of local businesses; therein lies the crux of the matter. Before this ruling, Facebook just restricted the access to the site, while retaining their tracking software.

The culprit cookie is called Datr, which Facebook uses to monitor the activities on the website (all cookies do this) but Datr reportedly stays in a user’s browser for as long as two years. Facebook uses cookies in the US free of permission.

In Europe, however, all websites must seek the permission of users to place such cookies. Facebook has reiterated that its cookies are placed to secure users and protect them from hijacking and hacking of accounts, online theft and to sift out fake accounts. The cookie also tracks non-users who visit Facebook for public information.

The privacy battle between Facebook and the European Union is actually ongoing. The first complaint concerning privacy violation came from a privacy activist from Austria to the Ireland Data Protection Authority.

This led to the invalidation of an old agreement that allows the transfer of private data between European countries and companies in the US, in October. This was followed by the current ruling by the Belgian Privacy Commission in November, which blocks non-users from viewing Facebook pages while requiring users to log in before using the website.

Facebook declared its disappointment reach a compromise that allows it to keep its cookie which it has insisted helps them to protect user security. Facebook reported over 33,000 hijacking attempts on Belgian Facebook in the past month.

It has stated outright that it will contest the ruling. Their other grouse is that the ruling seems to affect Facebook mainly, not other websites. If the order stands, other countries of the European Union will probably follow suit.

Violation of the order would mean that Facebook risks payment of a fine of up to 250,000 euros (£180,000) per day. Facebook has committed to comply with the ruling as soon as they receive it. Meanwhile, business owners on Facebook will certainly be unhappy with the present situation.

About Ali Raza

Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.

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