Facebook wins appeal against Belgian privacy watchdog over tracking

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Facebook has successfully overturned a decision that blocked the social network from using its so-called datr cookies to track the internet activity of logged-out users in Belgium.

This is the latest twist in the long-running case that saw the Belgian Privacy Commission (BPC) demand Facebook stop the use of some cookies that allowed it to track users outside of Facebook.

A court ordered Facebook to “stop tracking and registering internet usage by people who surf the internet in Belgium” in November.

Facebook appealed on the grounds that Belgium does not have the authority to regulate the social network because its European base of operations is in Dublin, Ireland, and won. The Brussels appeals court also threw out the BPC’s claim that the case was urgent and required expedited procedure.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “We are pleased with the court’s decision and look forward to bringing all our services back online for people in Belgium.”

The BPC said: “Today’s decision simply and purely means that Belgian citizens cannot obtain the protection of their private lives through the courts and tribunals when it concerns foreign actors.”

The case, brought by the Belgian privacy watchdog in June 2015, accused Facebook of indiscriminately tracking internet users using its datr cookie when they visited pages on the site or clicked “like” or “share”, even if they were not members of the social network. It claimed that tracking users without their permission contravened European privacy law.

Facebook claimed the datr cookie is used to protect users as part of its security systems, preventing user accounts being hacked.

The BPC said it would look into launching a final appeal with the court of cassation, which can throw out previous judgments but not deliver new ones, and has previously overruled the court of appeal on matters of jurisdiction over foreign companies.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th June 2016 14.08 Europe/London

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