Facebook’s Sneaky User Data Sharing Hammered by French Privacy Regulators

French privacy advocates tell Facebook to stop spying on its citizen within 3 month

It’s a fact that European countries are not happy with Facebook tracking their citizens online activities. In fact, one privacy accused the social media giant of following NSA’s footsteps. Not to mention how Facebook has been sued multiple times in Europe.

Now, the social network has been given three months’ by the French Data Protection authority to stop tracking personal data of non-users and transferring information to the US without their consent.

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The French order:

In 2015, EU court formulated an agreement that was endorsed by thousands of companies such as Facebook to prevent troublesome EU data transfer regulations. In this regard, this French order (pdf) issued to Facebook is perhaps the first most significant action taken under last year’s EU court ruling.

The agreement reportedly laid out rules to deal with any company involved in personal data transferring to the US. Also, the EU ruled that the transatlantic Safe Harbor pact was no longer legal, which is a step prompted by the uncontrollable mass snooping from the US government.

As per the agreement, EU data protection authorities gave firms three months’ time to set-up substitute legal arrangements for data transferring and to stop relying upon safe Harbor pact. The deadline expired last week and thus, data protection regulatory authorities started taking legal action against firms that were still using the Safe Harbor pact for data transfer approval.

In the case of Facebook, the French CNIL found Facebook to be still transferring “personal data to the United States on the basis of Safe Harbour, although the Court of Justice of the European Union declared such transfers invalid in its ruling of October 6, 2015.”

The French, Belgian, Spanish, German, Dutch and Belgian authorities started investigating the social media giant’s practices after it changed its privacy policy all of a sudden. Last year in Belgium Facebook was pushed to stop tracking Belgium-based non-users when the regulators went to the court. Noncompliance with the authority would make Facebook eligible for a penalty, the officials stated.

How Facebook Conducts Data Snooping:

The regulatory authority officials revealed that Facebook tracks personal data and web usage activities of non-users by embedding cookies on their browsers while they are visiting a Facebook page. This act, officials claim, violates the current French privacy laws related to data protection.

 

It was also disclosed by the authority that the cookies used by Facebook gathers information and uses it for ad placement purposes, which is not an illegal practice providing the company does so with the consent of the users. The authority states that it is the right of Facebook users to decide whether the social network can serve them personalized ads using their information or not.

Facebook’s side of the story:

The social network clarified previously that it no longer relies upon Safe Harbor for transferring data to the US and that the company has already set-up alternative legal methods to continue the transfer according to the EU law.

Facebook’s spokeswoman stated that the company was confident about its compliance with the EU data protection law.

“Protecting the privacy of the people who use Facebook is at the heart of everything we do. We … look forward to engaging with the CNIL to respond to their concerns,” stated the spokeswoman and reported by Reuters.

It is true that the EU and the US both agreed upon the not yet operational new pact that is to replace Safe Harbor. The reason for this delay is that the European data protection authorities require additional time to decide if the transatlantic data transfers need to be restricted.

Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.