Facebook publicly clashed with Belgium’s Commission for the Protection of Privacy in April, over a disputed report about the social network’s data protection measures. Now another battle is on the horizon.
After repeatedly threatening to do so, the Commission is launching a legal case in Belgium, alleging that Facebook is not complying with local privacy legislation. The move was reported (in Dutch) by newspaper De Morgen yesterday.
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The case will come to court in Brussels on Thursday. It could be the first of many privacy challenges across Europe. Earlier this year, it was reported that regulators in France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany were also considering investigations.
The new challenge focuses on how Facebook tracks users on external websites with the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons. The Belgian commission says its communication with Facebook has been strained and sporadic.
It now says that the social network has failed to provide an adequate response to its objections. It has now subpoenaed Facebook’s operations in Belgium, Ireland – where the company considers itself to be regulated for privacy in Europe – and the US.
For its part, Facebook has both publicly challenged a previous report backed by the Belgian body and published a wider-ranging op-ed in the Financial Times criticising overreaching European privacy regulators.
VRT, the national public service broadcaster for the Flemish region, reports that a Facebook official told it that talks with the Belgian privacy regulator had been ongoing but are “no longer meaningful.”
We’ve contacted Facebook for further comment.