Most people don’t realize that Facebook is selling your information to advertisers without your consent, by monetizing your “shares” and “likes”, according to the Belgian Privacy Commission (BPC).
Belgian Courts ruled against Facebook declaring its activities like canvas fingerprinting unlawful and fining them more than the US $ 25 Million PLUS daily charges of US $ 300 000 as long as it remains non-compliant. The court ordered Facebook to stop exploiting Belgian’s web-activity and to destroy all data in its possession.
Previously, the BPC went to court with Facebook for amongst other things, secretly monitoring non-users via social plug-ins after Facebook just ignored the BPC’s complaints made to them, resulting in court action over tracking cookies on third party websites. In 2015 the BPC took civil action, and this history might explain partly, why the fines against Facebook were so high.
Facebook cries foul, of course, claiming that their methods were misrepresented. Using jurisdiction as an argument, rejecting the Belgium Court’s jurisdiction over Facebook domiciled in Ireland, the company vowed to appeal, and made the following statement:
The technology used by Facebook are standard to the industry, en aids economic growth across the region of the EU. It is common cause that all users of our technologies clearly inform all end-users about our practices and protocols, and they, in turn, have the full right to opt-out of having their data and browsing habits collected.
As such, Facebook contends that it does nothing non-transparent or illegal. Facebook maintained, on the contrary, that its activities are beneficial for users and non-users. Users get access to more content, and non-users see ads specifically targeted for them.
But Facebook’s claims seem to be on the wrong side of public opinion at this point in time. Legal challenges problems are litigated around the world, and public sentiment is turning on intrusive advertising across the web.
Some of the litigation Facebook is facing now, was brought by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This case is earmarked for May 2018. This case is especially burdensome to Facebook’s business model. It intends to intensify enforcement of privacy rights, by expanding penalties for violations to as much as 4% of turnover.
The GDPR hopes that this will force Facebook into more transparency over their actual tracking of consumer’s online behavior, hence informing the public more clearly about what Facebook is doing behind their backs.
On another note, advertisers may be adverse to the uncertainty this GDPR suit might bring to their business. Facebook is pro-actively managing this risk by conducting global workshops to re-assure the small and medium-sized businesses who are advertising is Facebook’s main revenue stream. Only time will tell.