Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) won its legal battle against the Belgian data protection authority on Wednesday. The Belgian authority sought to stop the U.S. site from tracking the online activities of non-users in Belgium who visit Facebook pages. The social media giant ran into trouble with a number of European privacy watchdogs over the use of data.
The Brussels Appeals Court dismissed the case on the grounds that the regulator has no jurisdiction over the U.S. firm, which has its European headquarters in Ireland, said the Belgian Privacy Commission. This legal battle marks a victory for the social network, which has maintained that only the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has jurisdiction over how it uses Europeans’ data.
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A Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) spokeswoman said, “We are pleased with the court’s decision and look forward to bringing all our services back online for people in Belgium.”
The Belgian data protection authority will look to launch a final appeal with the Court of Cassation, said the Belgian regulator. The final appeal can remove the previous judgments but not deliver a new one.
In a statement, the regular said, “Today’s decision simply and purely means that the Belgian citizen cannot obtain the protection of his private life through the courts and tribunals when it concerns foreign actors.”
Previously the Court of Cassation overruled the Court of Appeal on matters of jurisdiction over foreign companies, the regulator said.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was taken to court by Belgium’s data protection regulator a year ago. It accused the company of trampling EU privacy laws by tracking people who did not have a Facebook account without their consent. The court then ruled in favor of the regulator, ordering the U.S. firm to stop tracking non-Facebook users when they visited a Facebook page. If it refused to follow the order, then it would have had to pay a daily fine of 250,000 euros ($277,000).
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) appealed the ruling. The tech giant said it would comply with orders in the meantime and stop using the so-called “datr” cookie, which it places on people’s browsers when they click a “Like” button on other websites or visit a Facebook.com site. The “datr” cookie allows the social networking service to track the online activities of that browser.
In pre-market trading today, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shares were marginally down. Year to date, the stock is up more than 7%, while in the last year, it is up almost 30%.