(credit: Spencer E Holtaway)

A Belgian court yesterday gave Facebook 48 hours to stop tracking Internet users who do not have a Facebook account. If the US company refuses to comply, it faces fines of up to €250,000 (£177,000) per day. According to a report by AFP, the Belgian court issued a statement in which it said: “Today the judge… ordered the social network Facebook to stop tracking and registering Internet usage by people who surf the Internet in Belgium, in the 48 hours which follow this statement.”
The judgment is a result of Belgium’s independent Privacy Commission taking Facebook to court for failing to comply with the country’s privacy laws, as Ars reported back in June. The Privacy Commission wanted Facebook to implement a number of changes to its operations, including refraining from “systematically placing long-life and unique identifier cookies with non-users of Facebook,” and to stop collecting and using the data of Facebook users by means of cookies and social plug-ins unless it obtained an unambiguous and specific consent through an opt-in.
The demands were prompted by research carried out for the Privacy Commission, which found that Facebook tracked all visitors, even those who did not have an account, or who had explicitly opted out of tracking. The court has now confirmed that the tracking cookie “is personal data, which Facebook can only use if the Internet user expressly gives their consent, as Belgian privacy law dictates.”
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