Facebook was ordered by a court last month to stop tracking the page browsers of internet users in Belgium who are not signed into a Facebook account, and failure to do so will require the company to face daily charges. On Wednesday, the U.S. firm said it will comply with the court ruling.
Belgians now need Facebook account to view Facebook pages
Facebook’s actions will now restrict Belgians from seeing Facebook pages without logging in. This means that they will have to create accounts and sign in to be able to view the pages or related content, says a report from Reuters.
Previously, the social networking giant allowed non-users to view public pages from sports teams, celebrities, tourist attractions and businesses with no such necessity of logging into the platform. The company informed users that the changes will now require registered Facebook users in Belgium to comply with few additional security steps when they try to log into the site from an unrecognized web browser.
In June, the U.S. company was dragged to court by Belgium’s data protector regulator, which accused it of trampling EU privacy law as it was actively tracking people who did not have Facebook accounts without their knowledge or consent. The U.S. firm plans to appeal the court ruling, but by complying with the order, it won’t be required to pay a daily fine of 250,000 euros ($265,000).
The U.S. firm argued that the company has its European headquarters located in Ireland, so therefore, Belgium does not have any authority on this issue. The ruling came from the Brussels court, suggesting it had jurisdiction over the company, said Belgium’s privacy regulator.
Software to blame
A cookie called “datr” is the root cause of the issue. The social network places this cookie on the browsers of users and uses it to track the activities of that browser whenever a user visits a Facebook site or clicks a Like button on other sites. In its defense, the social networking giant said the software identifies only browsers and not individuals and helps them to distinguish between legitimate visits and those by hackers.
Last month, Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said, “[Removing the cookie] will cause a marginal privacy hit. That will decrease the privacy of Belgian users.”