Belgium’s privacy watchdog, The Commission de Protection de la Vie Privée (CPVP), condemned Facebook for its tracking of users and non-users, saying the company is in breach of EU privacy laws.
The commission said it was staggered by how agressively Facebook tramples users’ rights and tracks them across the web, whether they consent to this or not.
Specifically, the CPVP claims:
Facebook violates European and Belgian legislation on privacy. It is in a unique position and can easily connect the browsing habits of its users to their real identity, their interactions on social networks and sensitive data such as medical information, preferences religious, sexual and political
The privacy Commission also took the unusual step of advising people to use "do not track" services like Ghostery, Blur and Disconnect to protect themselves from Facebook’s mass data collection. In essence, the commission is saying that Facebook's main business is so abusive to personal privacy that people should use tools designed to thwart it.
The biggest concerns raised in the report is with Facebook’s ability to profile non-users simply through their interaction with those who are signed up. Interactions can include email and Whatsapp messages, which aren't generally thought of as connected to Facebook.
The Belgian regulator isn't the first to hit back hard against Facebook’s pervasive abuse of privacy. Dutch and German agencies are also investigating Facebook in addition to the European Commission.
Facebook denies any wrongdoing and insists it is compliant with EU law yet hides in Ireland, which uses a controversially lax interpretation. Many social media companies, like Twitter as well as other tech privacy abusers like Dropbox, have moved to Ireland for their open attitude towards abusing user privacy.
The EU is planning a continent-wide data protection regulation, which is currently being negotiated. Such a regulation would be applied the same throughout the EU, while currently each country takes working guidelines by the EC and applies it to their own country-specific laws.
The commission will forward its findings to the national prosecutor’s office and said that a criminal case could be in the works.