Facebook to Appeal Belgian Privacy Ruling

The battle over Facebook’s use of its datr cookie in Belgium has come to a head, with the company vowing to appeal a court ruling ordering it to stop tracking non-Facebook members in the country within 48 hours.

BBC News reported that if the social network does not comply with the order, it faces fines of up to 250,000 euros ($268,000) per day, with those funds going to the Belgian Privacy Commission.

The court said in a statement, as reported by BBC News:

The judge ruled that this is personal data, which Facebook can only use if the Internet user expressly gives their consent, as Belgian privacy law dictates.

A Facebook spokesperson told BBC News:

We’ve used the datr cookie for more than five years to keep Facebook secure for 1.5 billion people around the world. We will appeal this decision and are working to minimize any disruption to people’s access to Facebook in Belgium.

Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos defended the social network’s use of the datr cookie in a note last month, writing (in part):

If the court blocks us from using the datr cookie in Belgium, we would lose one of our best signals to demonstrate that someone is coming to our site legitimately. In practice, that means we would have to treat any visit to our service from Belgium as an untrusted login and deploy a range of other verification methods for people to prove that they are the legitimate owners of their accounts. It would also make Belgian devices more attractive to spammers and others who traffic in compromised accounts on underground forums.

The datr cookie is only associated with browsers, not individual people. It doesn’t contain any information that identifies or is tied to a particular person. At a technical level, we use the datr cookie to collect statistical information on the behavior of a browser on sites with social plugins, such as the like button, to help us distinguish patterns that look like an attacker from patterns that look like a real person.

Readers: How do you think this drama will play out?


Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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