According to a Belgian study, Facebook is violating European legislation

A report made on behalf of the Belgian body responsible for privacy affirms that the Facebook operates in breach of European law, despite updates to its policy.


In particular, the petition was compiled by the Center for Interdisciplinary Legislation and ICT (ICRI / CIR) of the University of Leuven in Belgium and argues that the change in privacy policies made in January merely extends past policies and practices, consumer protection legislation.

According to the report, in the text of the policy Facebook states that it has the license to track / monitor its users by websites and devices, to use profile photos for commercial and non-commercial purposes and to collect information about the activities of its users on a continuous basis.

"Facebook announced the changes more than a month earlier, but the choice for a billion or more users remained the same: agree or leave Facebook. To be clear: the changes made in 2015 are not very drastic. Most "new" Facebook policies and terms of use are just old practices that have become clearer. Our analysis indicates, however, that Facebook is violating European law.

First, Facebook places a lot of weight on its users. Users are expected to navigate through a complex network of settings looking for potential opt-outs. Default settings related to behavioral profiling or Social Ads, for example, are particularly problematic.

What's more, users are not given the option of appearing in "Sponsored Stories" or sharing site data. Second, users do not receive sufficient information. For example, it is not always clear what it means to use images "for advertising purposes". Will the images be used only in "Sponsored Stories" and "Social Adverts" or will they go beyond them?

Who are the "third party companies", "service providers" and "other partners" mentioned in Facebook's data usage policy?

"What are the exact consequences of extensive data collection through third-party websites, mobile applications, and recently acquired companies such as WhatsApp and Instagram?" refers to the relevant post on the university website.

The position of the researchers is that the activity related to the collection or use of data on devices is not in accordance with Article 5 (3) of the EU e-Privacy Directive, which requires free and full prior knowledge before storing or gaining access to information on a person's device.

At the request of the Belgian Privacy Committee, ICRI / CIR in collaboration with iMinds-SMIT drafted the report, which analyzes Facebook policies and terms.

The report is part of the wider context of the material on which the committee will be based during its further investigation. The Belgian commission is noted to be part of a European task force with bodies from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

According to a Guardian article, there was a meeting between Facebook and the Belgian minister in charge, Bart Tomelein, to discuss the issue. The company claims that there is no violation of Belgian data protection laws.


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