Facebook is being taken to court by Belgium's privacy commission over claims that the company fails to comply with the nation's privacy laws.
Dutch website DeMorgen reported the Belgian Privacy Commission (CBPL) will take Facebook to court on Thursday, as the watchdog considers the non-compliance with Belgium's privacy rules to be so blatant that action must be taken immediately.
A Facebook spokesperson expressed surprise at the CBPL's actions in a statement sent to V3.
"We were surprised and disappointed that, after the CBPL had already agreed to meet us on 19 June [Friday] to discuss their recommendations, they took the theatrical action of bringing Facebook Belgium to court on the day beforehand," said the spokesperson.
"Although we are confident that there is no merit to the CBPL's case, we remain happy to work with them in an effort to resolve their concerns, through a dialogue with us at Facebook Ireland and with our [European] regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner."
The CBPL's argument with Facebook stems from a report it commissioned which found the social network tracks the activity of people who are not registered Facebook users, or who have logged out of the network or opted out of Facebook's tracking policies.
This means that all internet users who have come in virtual contact with Facebook's social network or third-party websites that make use of its features, such as the ‘Like' and ‘Share' buttons, have had their activity tracked.
The data gleaned from such tracking activity could then be used for targeted advertising, according to the report.
Facebook has previously claimed that the report is incorrect in multiple places about how the company uses information to provide services to over a billion people across the globe.
Willem Debeuckelaere, chairman of the CBPL, described Facebook's breach of the nation's privacy legislation as "flagrant", and that the firm has ignored the CBPL's recommendations to avoid breaking its privacy rules, according to DeMorgan.
"We asked them what they would do with our recommendations. They replied that they do not accept the Belgian law and the authority of the Belgian Privacy Commission, and that it all rests on a misunderstanding," he said.
"For us that was the signal to go to court. The behaviour of Facebook cannot be tolerated."
As part of this move, the CBPL has also submitted a subpoena against Facebook in Belgium, Ireland and the US, as it felt that the company had not provided an adequate response to its recommendations.
Taking Facebook to court is an attempt by the CBPL to persuade a judge to impose recommendations which Facebook failed to act on to the Commission's satisfaction. This could lead to similar cases being made against Facebook by other European privacy organisations.
V3 contacted CBPL for more information on the case but had received no reply at the time of publication.
Criticisms over the privacy practices of major internet companies are common. Academics and experts said recently that Google and Facebook must respect individuals' privacy.
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