Legal action has been initiated against Facebook by a Belgian privacy watchdog, which has accused the social network of tracking the activities of its users all over the web and even of those people who don’t have a Facebook account. Last month, the social networking giant had been accused by the independent Privacy Commission for stepping on European privacy laws after it had attempted to find out more information about the practices of the US social media giant. The Commission is working with its counterparts in Dutch, Spain, French and Germany. According to a spokeswoman of the Commission for the Protection of Privacy (CPP), they weren’t able to get satisfactory answers so this seemed like a logical step.
Court will be convened on Thursday and has been asked by the Commission to give an immediate order that would ban Facebook from especially monitoring non-users, which it can do through cookies and plug-ins. This move is the latest in the series of regulatory and legal challenges to US technology companies that have been made across the European Union. Companies ranging from established ones such as Google and Amazon to newer taxi-services such as Uber have been targeted. The biggest social network in the world said that it had been surprised and also a bit disappointed that the CPP had agreed to a meeting on Friday and then decided to take it to court just a day before.
Facebook added that it was sure that the case had no merit, but was more than willing to resolve this conflict through a dialogue with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, its regulator. Previously, the social network described cookies as an industry standard and also said that the right to opt out was available to internet users. The company said that only laws in Ireland are applicable to it, which is the site of its European headquarters. Nonetheless, criticism has been directed towards Dublin for being lenient with the multinational firms it has attracted, whether on corporation tax or data protection.
Among other news, the social network announced on Monday that a new data center will be set up in Ireland, which would make Facebook the latest tech giant to establish an energy efficient center in the recovering economy. The social network said that it has already applied for permission to build the center, the second one in Europe after Sweden for housing computers running on cloud computing services where data can be stored on secure servers by the users instead of their own computer or network.
Due to its temperate climate and the location of several large internet companies, Ireland is rapidly becoming a cloud hub as its low corporation tax rate has been a major attraction. In February, Apple Inc. announced that 1.7 billion euros would be spent for building data centers in Denmark and Ireland, its largest investments in Europe. Irish data centers have also been opened by Microsoft and Google in recent years and Facebook is interested in expanding its operations there.