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Facebook to challenge tracking ban in Belgium

Staff writer |
Facebook said it would appeal a privacy decision by a Brussels court to stop tracking its users in Belgium without their consent.

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Local media reported Monday evening that a Brussels commercial court had ruled that Facebook must stop within 48 hours the collection of data on users’ Internet browsing when they are not logged in. If they didn’t stop, then Facebook would face a daily fine of 250,000 euros ($269,000), the reports said.

“We’ve used the data 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,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. Faecbook didn’t give further details of the verdict.

Facebook has acknowledged that it collects data on users’ Internet browsing even when they aren’t logged in, through a snippet of computer code called a cookie that it places within an individual’s Web browser if they have visited the website.

That cookie reports back to Facebook whenever that browser accesses a Web page with an active social plug-in, such as a “like” button.

Facebook says the process is necessary for security purposes to protect people from spam, malware and other attacks. The firm says it uses the information from that cookie only to weed out browsers being piloted by a machine rather than a human, and discards the browsing data after 10 days.

Machine-driven browsers are often used to hack into users’ Facebook pages, the company says.

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