Facebook Oversteps EU Law, Tracking Cookies Sent to All Visitors

Facebook Oversteps EU Law, Tracking Cookies Sent to All Visitors

Being one of the most popular social networks (if not the most) in the World Wide Web, Facebook makes the headlines oftentimes. Maybe more often than it likes, especially when a negative frame of reference is present. The security issue has once again been risen, provoked by a Belgian data protection agency’s report.

The Belgian researchers revealed that all people visiting Facebook.com, no matter if they are registered or not, are being followed by tracking cookies. The tracking happens, even if the user has opted out of tracking in the EU with the help of the European Digital Advertising Alliance website. Such spying on user’s activity has been determined illegal by the European law.

Security Professionals Versus Facebook

The security team has gathered professionals from different organizations such as the Centre of Interdisciplinary Law and ICT (ICRI) and the Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography department (Cosic) at the University of Leuven, the Media, Information and Telecommunication Department (Smit) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels. The experts were invited to analyze the matter after the report exposed Facebook’s privacy policy is contrary to the European law.

This is how they accordingly discovered that Facebook applies cookies to all visitors, no matter if they are registered or not. The controversy is strengthened by the use of social plugins on more than 13 million pages. A process that sends tracking cookies to the social network even when there is no communication with the page. This is done for digital marketing and advertising reasons, in contrast with the EU Privacy Law.

When tracking is somehow involved, in prevalent number of cases the user must have given precedent consent. Furthermore, the European law obligates websites to inform users when the use of cookies is required so that users can decide how to proceed.

Facebook’s Reaction

Facebook’s reply to the report is quite displeased, to say the least. Their spokesperson shared that the ‘report contains factual inaccuracies’ and ‘the authors have never contacted us… neither did they invite our comment on the report before making it public.

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner regulates Facebook to make sure that the network is acting in consideration to the EU Data Protection Directive.
On the other hand, the Belgian expert team sticks by their discoveries, and adds that Facebook hasn’t contacted them at all.

Other security specialists remind that the present case with Facebook is yet another proof of influential American companies overstepping the European Union laws.