Pando

More European countries investigate Facebook's tracking practices

By Nathaniel Mott , written on April 2, 2015

From The News Desk

Belgium isn't the only European country Facebook should worry about.

The Wall Street Journal reports that officials in France, Spain, and Italy have joined Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands in scrutinizing Facebook's practices.

The news comes shortly after research commissioned by Belgium's privacy agency found that Facebook is violating European Union laws by tracking consumers without their consent -- even if they don't use the social network.

At issue is the fact that, when a consumer in Europe opts-out of Facebook's tracking program, the company installs a "cookie" that can be used to identify the consumer anyway. When people from the United States or Canada opt-out of this program, however, Facebook won't install the cookie, according to the Belgian researchers.

Facebook has taken these accusations lying down. The company told the BBC that the Belgian researchers' report is flawed. A spokesperson said:
This report contains factual inaccuracies. The authors have never contacted us, nor sought to clarify any assumptions upon which their report is based. Neither did they invite our comment on the report before making it public. However, we remain willing to engage with them and hope they will be prepared to update their work in due course.
The Journal reports that the growing number of countries taking interest in Facebook could incur "fines that could reach the millions of euros" and lead to "formal orders to change business practices" as a result of the investigation.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]