Facebook Inc (FB) Privacy Policy Violates European Law


The privacy policy of Facebook violates the European Law based on the study conducted by the Center of Interdisciplinary Law and ICT at the University of Leuven in Belgium. The study was authorized by the Belgian privacy commission.

Facebook Inc (FB) Privacy Policy Violates European Law

Facebook’s updates are “simply old practice made more explicit”

According to the study, the update on the privacy policy of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) last January was just an expanded version of the older policy and practices of the search engine giant. The study claimed that the company’s privacy policy remained in violation with the consumer protection law.

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“To be clear: the changes introduced in 2015 weren’t all that drastic. Most of Facebook’s “new” policies and terms are simply old practices made more explicit. Our analysis indicates, however, that Facebook is acting in violation of European law,” said the authors of the study.

The authors of the study noted, “Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) contain a number of provisions which do not comply with the Unfair Contract Terms Directive. These violations were already present in 2013, and they are set to persist in 2014.”

Facebook policies related to social ads are “problematic”

The study found that the policies of Facebook associated with profiling or social ads for third-party advertising is “problematic” as it failed to meet the requirements for legally valid consents. The social network giant also failed to provide adequate control mechanisms related to the user-generated content for commercial purposes.

The authors wrote, “Facebook places too much burden on its users. Users are expected to navigate Facebook’s complex web of settings in search of possible opt-outs. Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) default settings related to behavioral profiling or social Ads, for example, are particularly problematic.”

In addition, the study found that it is difficult to prevent Facebook from collecting the location information of users through its smartphone app. The only way is turn off the location access on the smartphone from the operating system.

According to the authors, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) does not offer users options regarding the appearance of sponsored stories or the sharing of location data. They emphasized that users “do not receive adequate information” to make more informed choices.

Facebook tracking practices do not comply with e-Privacy Directive

The study emphasized also found the tracking practices of Facebook do not comply with the requirements of the article 5(3) of the e-Privacy Directive although the social network giant provides high-level information to users that it is monitoring their online activities in different ways.

The authors pointed out that the e-Privacy Directive requires free and informed prior consent before a company can store or access information on a person’s device.

Facebook is confident that its updates comply with laws

In a statement, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) commented that it recently updated its terms and policies to make it more clear and concise to reflect its new product features. The updates also show that it is expanding users’ control over advertising.

“We’re confident the updates comply with applicable laws. As a company with international headquarters in Dublin, we routinely review product and policy updates ­ including this one ­ with our regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, who oversees our compliance with the EU Data Protection Directive as implemented under Irish law,” according to Facebook.

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