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Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

Belgian government faces off with Facebook over privacy

nsnbc : The Privacy Committee of the federal government in the Belgian capital Brussels and Facebook started facing off today, October 12. The Committee thinks that Facebook needs to be clearer about which data it collects from users and what it does with the data.

Facebook_facial recognition software_USA_Chicago_Illinois_SP_OCThe Privacy Committee stresses that Facebook all too often collects user’s – and non-user’s – data without the user being aware of it, or without the user knowing how exactly Facebook uses these data.

The so-called ‘social plug-ins’, ‘cookies’ and ‘pixels’ are technologies that allow Facebook to monitor your surfing behavior. “Cookies” are small files that are attached to the internet browser when you visit a certain site and collect data.

Facebook places them on its own websites, but also on external websites. Their goal, among others, is to provide more targeted advertising. According to the Privacy Committee, Facebook also tracks people who do not have a Facebook profile via certain cookies.

Facebook_Advertising_SP_OCThe Privacy Committee estimates that Facebook should provide more clarity on what its cookie and advertising policy is all about. It must also always ask for a clear and informed consent from the user to collect data.

The problem is that “explanations” if and when they are given, often are so lengthy that nobody reads them, or so complicated that only experts can decipher what they really imply. It should also be easier for the user to determine which data is used. “And the illegally obtained data must be deleted,” says Willem De Beuckelare.

Tomorrow, October 13, Facebook will be speaking during the process. The ruling will probably only be issued in a month’s time, or perhaps a little later. In any case, this is the first time that there has been a court case against Facebook about privacy in Belgium.

Facebook_backstabbing_NEOIt should be noted that Facebook demanded that nsnbc international editor-in-chief Christof Lehmann send a PDF copy of his passport. Lehmann then asked Facebook to explain what exactly it does with the copy and how it guarantees that the data are not given to a third party.

Facebook failed to reply, but copies of the correspondence Lehmann sent to Facebook were forwarded to relevant authorities to the European Union. The case in Belgium is expected to set a precedence for a similar case on EU level.

CH/L – nsnbc 12.10.2017

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