Facebook to fight the $269,000 per day fine ruled by the Belgian court; says it is it’s right to track users

Last week Facebook had been found guilty of tracking users by a Belgian court which ruled that the social media giant must cease tracking the online behavior of non-Facebook users or pay fines of €250,000 ($269,000) per day. Facebook has decided to file an appeal against the verdict saying that it was within in rights to track the users with its Datr cookie.Facebook was found guilty after a privacy agency from Belgium, Commission de Protection de la Vie Privée (CPVP), sued Facebook in June. The researchers hired by the commission found that the ‘Datr’ cookie created by Facebook that tracks the browser activity of anyone who visits Facebook’s website or clicks a ‘like’ button. According the researcher, the Datr cookie tracks users’ online activity, whether they have a Facebook account, for a two-year period.The Brussels court had found the commission’s finding correct and stated that Facebook can only use personal data “if the Internet user expressly gives their consent, as Belgian privacy law dictates” in its ruling.Facebook has since argued that the ‘Datr’ cookie is necessary to protect the security of its users. Facebook CSO Alex Stamo wrote in a blog post last month that the datr cookie helps “differentiate legitimate visits to our website from illegitimate ones.”



He wrote that Facebook does not set the datr cookie “when someone simply loads a page with a Like button” and claimed Facebook deletes logs generated by the cookie after 10 days. “People can delete the datr cookie and this associated information from their browser at any time,” he wrote.

Following the ruling, a Facebook spokesperson echoed this sentiment. “We’ve used the ‘datr’ cookie for more than five years to keep Facebook secure for 1.5 billion people around the world,” a spokeswoman said. “We will appeal this decision and are working to minimise any disruption to people’s access to Facebook in Belgium.”

CPVP meanwhile said Facebook may find it hard to convince the Belgian courts. The court said that “even an ‘internet illiterate’ understands that systematically collecting the datr cookie as such is insufficient to counter the attacks referred to by Facebook because criminals can very easily circumvent this cookie from being installed by means of software which blocks cookies being installed,” according to a CPVP statement.

The decision is a significant victory for data protection agencies in Europe concerned with Facebook’s tracking policies. Regulators in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain are also looking into whether Facebook’s privacy policies are in violation of their data protection rules.