back to article Belgium privacy commish ambushes Facebook with lawsuit

Facebook won't quit stalking people who aren't its users, so after months of wrangling, Belgium's Privacy Commissioner is pressing ahead with a lawsuit against The Social NetworkTM. According to this report in Belgian news site De Morgen, the tracking is flagrant and sweeps up people who don't want to be tracked. The …

  1. James 51

    So, Facebook's legal strategy is "Na na na na na, I'm not listening.'. Let's see how that goes.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Are these people stupid? Have they not been observing what's just happened to Google? Do they not have lobbyists who can tell them which way the wind is blowing in Brussels?

      The Spitzenkandidate system was a German idea (hence the name) from some of the last remaining believers in the one true church of the EU. The idea being to get power to the Parliament from the Council of Ministers. By a clever bit of ambush, it worked. It got its candidate to be President of the Commission. One of the big drivers of German politics is privacy. And this was long before the Snowden revelations! A bit of crude nationalism and sulking that the tech giants are all American isn't exactly going to help matters.

      Added to the fact that Cameron attempted to get the Council of Ministers not to vote to give their power away by accident, and they basically didn't like the idea but couldn't really be arsed to oppose it. However, he nearly stopped it, except for a last minute move by the German opposition and press. That gave us Juncker, and he seems to be capable of remembering a favour - hence the complete transformation of the Commission's policy on Google - pretty much from the moment his Commission took over.

      Given those political movements in the EU, surely this is the time for giant US corporations that rely on hoovering up as much private data as they can get away with, to keep their bloody heads down and say "yes sir" a few times to keep the politicians sweet. I'm sure it'll all blow over in a bit, and if they don't keep poking the angry bear with a stick, it'll roll over and go back to sleep again.

      What are the boards of these companies doing? Is there no adult supervision at Facebook? Or are they just so stupid that they think paying their lobbying cash to Congress covers them globally? Well if they get what's coming to them from the EU, I shall laugh. It's not like they haven't had warnings.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What are the boards of these companies doing? Is there no adult supervision at Facebook? Or are they just so stupid that they think paying their lobbying cash to Congress covers them globally? Well if they get what's coming to them from the EU, I shall laugh. It's not like they haven't had warnings.

        It's simpler than that - they cannot possibly admit to a problem because the net impact of that would be that it becomes abundantly clear that all US service providers are facing that issue, and that would make Zuckerboy rather unpopular amongst his peers.

        Make no mistake, this is the first time in DECADES that Europe has had political leverage this strong to offset the usual US blackmail in trade negotiations, and I have the impression they're very much enjoying that. The blunt reality is that without some sort of Safe Harbor fix (and that now needs to be a lot stronger than the existing patch), US companies cannot sell to EU organisations because there is a double problem: not only do US companies not comply with EU Data Protection laws, but EU companies can also not afford to engage in practices that see them break EU law.

        I suspect that a godawful amount of US espionage and profiling must have been designated to profile EU decision makers because this issue can get very costly indeed for the US - not just in financial terms, but also in the risk to their intercept abilities through US products and services.

        Yes, I'm paranoid. Sadly, I have been proven right :(.

        1. Captain DaFt

          "Yes, I'm paranoid. Sadly, I have been proven right :(."

          It's not paranoia if they actually are out to get you.

  2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Interesting

    If the Belgians are correct and facebook are breaching european law doesn't matter so much even if Facebook are correct in that they don't have jurisdiction as I would think it would force the Irish to take (grudging) action.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting

      I would think it would force the Irish to take (grudging) action.

      Nah, they'll just offer the current DPC a well paid position. Wasn't that what happened to that last person in that position?

  3. msknight

    You know...

    Of all the stuff we've seen over the recent years, I've been waiting to see if anything would escalate to the point where a country would literally consider banning a service in its country. And I think that this has the potential to go that way if Facebook keep pushing.

    Flame suit donned. Le'me have it.

    (Reg: Can we have an icon for "Flamesuit donned" please?)

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: You know...

      I'm surprised it hasn't gone that far already. Facebook is outrageous in their stalking tracking behaviour.

  4. Mystic Megabyte
    Stop

    'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'

    I feel like I'm the guy who runs off at the end of "The invasion of the body snatchers" when I tell people that Facebook is evil.

    From imdb.com:

    "With other pod people in pursuit, Miles ran to the highway. He pleaded with motorists to stop but they considered him crazy. He saw a truck full of pods headed to Los Angeles. Miles wandered the highway, telling people that "They're already here! You're next!""

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: 'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'

      There is nothing to worry about from Facebook. Facebook are our friends. Facebook is wonderful. I only live to serve the Master. All Hail Overlord Zuckerberg! You are our leader! All good things come from you! I must have 150 emails a day spewed into my inbox to show me what cat videos my friends are watching. I love Big Brother. I love Big Brother.

      Help! Help! They're coming for all of...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      There is nothing to worry about. Facebook are our friends. Facebook is great. No interaction with my family or friend units is complete without Facebook. They got you too? They got me a long time ago...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook doesn't accept either the Belgian law nor the authority of the privacy commission

    Google, maybe, but Facebook?! Never! Quote or they didn't say it! :)

  6. LucreLout
    Holmes

    One thing I've learned....

    .....over the past 40 odd years, is that refusing to recognise the authority of the court or the regulator does not end well for you. Ever.

    I realise Zuckerberg is only 12, but does he not have paid advisers to help guide him in these matters?

    1. Dan Paul

      Re: One thing I've learned....

      Zuckerberg doesn't have to do anything because as much as you fools protest, FACEBOOK is not headquartered in the EU and the EU doesn't have ANY authority except against the Irish Subsidiary of Facebook. They can close that up faster than you can get the word injunction out of your mouth.

      When are you Eurotards going to wake up to the fact that your sovereignty stops at your borders?

      If you don't like it, make a competing service or balkanize the Internet.

      And for the record, Zuck has enough cash to flip off the EUC forever.

      I don't even like the fellow and don't find the services his company provides very compelling but some do.

      1. LucreLout

        Re: One thing I've learned.... @Dan

        It's not the 4th July yet so you can put your flag back in the toy box for a bit.

        FACEBOOK is not headquartered in the EU

        Well, yeah it's not headquartered in Europe, but given you hail from a nation that just loves to pretend its laws have global reach, you'll be less than shocked that you're not the only ones now doing so.

        When are you Eurotards going to wake up to the fact that your sovereignty stops at your borders?

        The irony, and the fail, are strong with this one...

        Redirecting traffic away from the ad-slinger is, at the governmental level, trivial. Playing chicken with your boat is possibly a lot of fun for you, but you're playing against a lighthouse. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lighthouse_and_naval_vessel_urban_legend

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: One thing I've learned....

        "your sovereignty stops at your borders?"

        Ahh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha aaaahhhh haha haaa haaa haaa.

        Sorry, I forgot to breath in there for a moment.

      3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: One thing I've learned....

        Dan Paul,

        One word for you to consider: Advertising.

        It's how Facebook makes its money.

        Now admittedly some of that will be global branding. But from my limited experience of looking at the ads bar in Facebook, most of the ads are of too piss-poor a quality to come from that source. So much of it is going to be local. That is a local revenue stream, mostly within national borders, but almost all is going to be within EU jurisdiction. That is the leverage the EU has over Facebook. And that's without going nuclear, and just having it banned at the router level, which is trivial to do. But politically much less likely.

        This is why Google are slowly realising they're going to have to knuckle under to the EU - because if they want to participate in one of the largest single markets in the world, they're going to have to play by at least some of the rules, or get repeatedly hit over the head.

        The internet is not magic. Despite what all the marketroids and utopians claim. Much of the stuff people do, they do for cold, hard cash. And they have to get that cash from somewhere. That somewhere is where governments can interact and use leverage on companies, no matter where they choose to headquarter themselves, or put their servers.

  7. big_D Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Ambush?

    Surely an ambush is a surprise attack of sorts?

    If Facebook have been warned about their behaviour being illegal for months, with warnings of legal action, then it can't be an ambush if they get served?

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