A court in Belgium has ordered Facebook to stop tracking the country’s Internet users who are not members of the US-based social networking website.
“Today the judge… ordered the social network Facebook to stop tracking and registering Internet usage by people who surf the Internet in Belgium in the 48 hours which follow this statement,” the court said on Monday.
The ruling follows a case lodged in June by the Belgian Privacy Commission, which said Facebook indiscriminately tracks Internet users when they click “like” or “share” on the website, or when they visit Facebook pages even if they do not have accounts with the website, according to the court.
“If Facebook ignores this order it must pay a fine of 250,000 euros (269,000 dollars) a day to the Belgian Privacy Commission,” the court noted.
It also said the networking site uses a special cookie called “datr” that lodges on Internet users’ device to track their activities.
Cookies are files that track whether a person has visited a website before, and inform the site itself.
Datr provides Facebook with access to an amazing amount of user’s personal information, such as the Internet protocol (IP) address of the computer, browsing data, outside login information, phone numbers, and so on.
The Belgian court also said “this is personal data, which Facebook can only use if the Internet user expressly gives their consent, as Belgian privacy law dictates.”
In response, Facebook said it would appeal against the decision, emphasizing that the cookie was safe.
“We’ve used the datr cookie for more than five years to keep Facebook secure for 1.5 billion people around the world,” the website’s spokesman said in a statement emailed to AFP.