Facebook is spying on people in “the very same way” that the US’s National Security Agency (NSA) does, said the Belgian data protection watchdog at a court hearing where the social network stands accused of violating the privacy of internet users.
“When it became known that the NSA was spying on people all around the world, everybody was upset. This actor [Facebook] is doing the very same thing, albeit in a different way,” said Frederic Debussere, a lawyer representing the Belgian privacy commission (BPC) at the Monday court hearing.
This is possible, the report claimed, because the cookies are automatically installed on the computers of internet users each time they visit a page containing a Facebook plug-in, such as the ‘like’ button.
According to EU law, websites must ask for a user’s permission before installing any cookies. This is why Facebook’s policy is considered to in “violation of the European law” by the BPC.
The BPC is now threating Facebook with a daily fine of €250,000 ($280,213).
“Don’t be intimidated by Facebook. They will argue our demands cannot be implemented in Belgium alone. Our demands can be perfectly implemented just in this country,” said Frederic Debussere, addressing the court.
Facebook has consistently denied all accusations and claimed that its practices are in compliance with EU law, accusing the BPC of presenting false reports.
“We will show the court how this technology protects people from spam, malware, and other attacks, that our practices are consistent with EU law and with those of the most popular Belgian websites,” a Facebook spokesperson said, as quoted by the Guardian.