Facebook To Fight Belgian Privacy Ruling

Social media giant Facebook has said that it will appeal a privacy ruling in Belgium that would force it to stop collecting digital information about people who are not members of the site.

Announced yesterday, the ruling by a court in Brussels said that Facebook could no longer collect and store online information from Belgian residents who do not have Facebook accounts. The court said that Facebook did not have individualsEU consent to gather the information. Facebook faces fines of close to $270,000 per day if it doesnEUt comply with the courtEUs order within 48 hours, the court said yesterday.

The case started when Facebook changed its terms and conditions to give it more latitude in how it collects and uses members' online information. That got the attention of BelgiumEUs data protection authority, the Belgian Privacy Commission, which brought the case against Facebook to civil court in June.

The watchdog accused the company of collecting the personal data of its members as well as nonmembers, without asking for their permission or adequately explaining how it planned to use the data.

Irish Jurisdiction?

Facebook has been the target of several data protection cases in Europe. Privacy regulators from the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and France are also investigating whether the companyEUs new privacy conditions violate their domestic data protection rules.

The social networking company maintains that only IrelandEUs privacy authority has jurisdiction over its new privacy conditions, since FacebookEUs international headquarters are in Dublin. The majority of FacebookEUs 1.4 billion users outside North America are managed at that headquarters.

The European high court, with encouragement from data-privacy watchdogs, has been strict about how American technology companies get and use peopleEUs digital information. That court recently gave national authorities greater power over how companies like Facebook and Google store online data. EuropeEUs relatively strict data protection rules generally...

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