Facebook is acting like the US National Security Agency (NSA) by spying on its European users, the Belgian Privacy Commission (BPC) said at a court hearing on Monday, 21 September. The social media giant is accused of violating privacy laws, which includes monitoring information of non-users and logged-out users for the purpose of advertising. The BPC is threatening Facebook with daily fines of £180,246 (€250,000) if it fails to comply with its demands.
"When it became known that the NSA was spying on people all around the world, everybody was upset. Facebook is doing the very same thing," said Frederic Debussere, representing the BPC.
In March, BPC in a report said Facebook was mining data of users via cookies, like and share buttons. This, it said, was possible as cookies can install themselves automatically on the computers each time the user visits a page. According to EU law, user permission must be sought before installing cookies. However, Facebook has called the BPC report false and has maintained that its practices are in compliance with European Union law. The company has also not ruled out returning to talks with the BPC.
"We will show the court how this technology protects people from spam, malware, and other attacks, that our practices are consistent with EU law and with those of the most popular Belgian websites," the Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Guardian.