Facebook is not abiding by European privacy laws, says Belgium’s privacy watchdog. The social network is accused of mishandling the personal data of its users and those who are not registered with the site and failing to meet regulatory standards.
The accusations were made Friday by Belgium’s Privacy Protection Commission, which has worked alongside regulators from Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands to investigate Facebook's practices. The group published a report that responded to and identified potential privacy flaws. They include tracking online activity of anyone who visits a Facebook page, not just the site's users, via cookies and plug-ins. Facebook has said it is working to change that practice, Reuters reports. The commission also issued an opinion that Facebook should not track users after they are logged out of the network.
The commission's charge comes a few months after the group published a report on Facebook’s privacy policies, in January, saying that Facebook did not recognize the national jurisdictions within Belgium and the European Union. Facebook’s European headquarters are located in Dublin, Ireland. The commission said Facebook was adhering only to Ireland's standards, the Wall Street Journal reports.
A Facebook representative told the Guardian that the company will review the recommendations. "We work hard to make sure people have control over what they share and with whom. Facebook is already regulated in Europe and complies with European data protection law, so the applicability of the CBPL’s efforts are unclear."
This is not the first case of European regulators cracking down on U.S.-based tech giants. In fact, regulators forced Google to remove results from its search engine under a “right to be forgotten” rule last year. On Thursday, Google received a letter, signed by 80 academics, to be more transparent on privacy.
The Belgian commission said it plans to publish another report on Facebook’s policies later this year.