It looks like Facebook might be in a bit of trouble in Belgium as the social network has recently received a 48-hour deadline to stop tracking the online activities of users who don’t have Facebook accounts. Otherwise, the company could be facing fines of up to €250,000 a day. These events seem to be related to a June lawsuit that accused the company of tracking internet users whenever they visited the website or clicked on the “share” and “like” buttons. Apparently, the company was not asking for these people’s consent when it was collecting information using a tracking cookie, which would remain on the users’ devices for up to two years.
“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. If Facebook ignores this order it must pay a fine of €250,000 a day to the Belgian privacy commission.”
Moreover, experts have concluded that this cookie would allow Facebook to “link the browsing behavior of its users to their real world identities, social network interactions, offline purchases, and highly sensitive data such as medical information, religion, and sexual and political preferences.” On the other hand, Facebook’s representatives have stated that they will fight this decision, especially since they claim that the “datr” cookie in question has been used to “keep Facebook secure” for the past five years. Unfortunately, if the cookie actually ends up getting banned in Belgium, it would mean that users would have to go through several verification steps every time they would want to access their Facebook account, as the company would be forced to treat their accessing attempts as untrusted logins.