This sounds like a schoolyard argument! Is this the best a $245 billion company can manage?
Or is Zuck too tight to hire a decent Lawyer?
As legal arguments go, this may not be the strongest. Facebook has told the Belgian government that it cannot proceed with its privacy case against the social media giant because of its use of English terms like "cookie", "browser" and "server". The company was told back in November to stop tracking people without Facebook …
It does seem strange to use a language based argument in a country with multiple official languages and is all too familiar with the problems associated with getting a point across effectively in a subset of the Tower of Babel.
I am not familiar with Belgium's legal system but given that one of the words FB cite (cookie) is actually a borrow word from Dutch and GB had a rather large hand in the formation of Belgium and that Belgium is an EU country and that English is one of the official languages of the EU, then I don't see that an argument based on language will get too far.
Even if it is a fair attempt within Belgium's legal system, the fact that it makes them a laughing stock internationally will cost them hard and demonstrates that a $B245 company can behave like twats despite it being bleeding obvious that approach is stupid.
Well gerdesj, that English is an official language in EU proceedings does not make it an official language in Belgian national proceedings. Those are: Dutch, French and German (the Eastern outreaches of Belgium are German speaking) if I'm correct. And in this case since the case is being held in the Flemmish part of the federation the language is Dutch. Which makes this argument even stranger since 'cookie, server, browser, etc. are indeed official words in the Dutch language. Actually as a Dutchman I'm having a hard time trying to think of a IT related term not taken over from English in the Dutch language! I think the the Dutch word for automatisation qualifies since it came around earlier: "automatisering", but I can't think up any others right now.
"Actually as a Dutchman I'm having a hard time trying to think of a IT related term not taken over from English in the Dutch language! "
I recall "gegeven" or "gegevens" being used for "data", but that was back in 1982. "Gegeven" is similar to the French use of "données" for "data".
I also remember "invoer" for "input"
"the fact that it makes them a laughing stock internationally will cost them hard..."
If it ever costs them anything in any tangible way, you be sure to let us know immediately. 'Cos it won't. And note that your, or anyone else's, bad or worsened opinion of Facebook is a "cost" negligible to the point of being meaningless.
"...and demonstrates that a $B245 company can behave like twats despite it being bleeding obvious that approach is stupid."
This is not news.
"It does seem strange to use a language based argument in a country with multiple official languages and is all too familiar with the problems associated with getting a point across effectively in a subset of the Tower of Babel."
I'm sure if the judge looks hard enough he can find reason to throw the Facebook appeal out based on their use of non-Belgian language in the appeal documents. I can't imagine any lawyer producing a document without using obscure Latin terms :-)
Reminds me of the old phrase: "If you can't dazzle with brilliance, baffle with bullshit.". In this case, it appears to be a delaying tactic, something American lawyers are very good at. Confuse, shovel some bull, and delay the inevitable for a long period of time. Oh... and the hours are all billable. Perhaps the next challenge will be on the size of the paper used by the Court's printers as not being standard and accessible. Who knows? The longer the final verdict is delayed, the bigger FB's bottom line.
And yet Facebook themselves expect people to have an excellent grasp of English if they want to properly understand their legal agreement with Facebook. This from their own terms of service https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms
"This agreement was written in English (US). To the extent any translated version of this agreement conflicts with the English version, the English version controls."
(or as they say in, e.g. French, "La version d’origine de ce document est en anglais (États-Unis). En cas de conflit entre la traduction de ce document et la version d’origine, la version d’origine prévaut.")
This is how "Justice must be understood by all. Otherwise it's a slippery slope towards class justice" works?
Lawyers are now trained to throw as many arguments they can at the wall hoping one could stick, no matter how silly and absurd they can be. It is a tactic to waste time and delay trial also, because the judge(s) has to answer each of them. It's trying to defend from the trial, not from the accusation.
This practice should be banished, asserting that arguments that result blatantly stupid, absurd, inapplicable, and just designed to waste time will lead the lawyer to be dismissed, because wasted time is also wasted taxpayers money, and delaying other cases.
"It is a tactic to waste time and delay trial also"
How does that work in this case?
Facebook has already complied with the government's demand and the court proceedings here are to get the government orders overturned. One would think that Facebook, no matter how strong or weak their legal arguments are*, would want to go to trial as soon as possible because without a trial there is no way to get the government orders annulled.
So in what way does wasting time and delaying trial help Facebook?
* The article states that "this is not Facebook's only legal argument to the court order. It also claims that Belgian law doesn't apply since it processes all its data in Ireland." but does not actually say that these two arguments are their only arguments.
This is textbook stalling, standard operating procedure for any court case it seems.
I imagine you get flunked at law school nowadays if you dare to start a case without pleading for delays. If you spend a morning in the police court (dealing with traffic offenses, accidents and stuff like that), every single lawyer representing someone requests a delay because "they were only assigned the case the night before, hence they hadn't had time to prepare properly" -- all while keeping a straight face. How judges deal with this without losing their sanity is a mystery to me.
I'm Flemish (i.e. a Dutch speaking Belgian), and the linguistical argument is utter BS. Those English terms are common loanwords that are officially part of the Dutch language.
"If data is being gathered on Belgian citizens, sat in Belgium, it's not hard to imagine that Belgian courts will imagine it falls within their jurisdiction" ... wonder if the good citizens of Cheltenham, or indeed their friends in Maryland, view things that way .... sorry, that was a silly idea. Forget I mentioned it.
RLY? I'd love to - oh I did and I wasn't disappointed. Google this:"cookie - etymology" (hint - Dutch)
The irony is absolutely delicious (omnomnomnom)
IIRC Belgium has several official languages already and hence running with "English" terms as a form of IT lingua franca is quite normal. In the UK we are even bilingual in this area accepting disk for disc, along with font for fount (*sigh* - they are typefaces.) Actually the en_GB originals are fading - that's how language works.
Lingua Franca means language of the Franks (Frenchy/Germanic sort of). English is a massive borrower of words and is quite happy to reciprocate the honour. My favourite is: "Boeuf" (French) -> "Beef" ... "Beef steak" (English) -> "le biftek" (French). Apparently the French used to boil their beef until Parisians, besieged by British troops, saw our plucky err invaders grilling theirs and saw the error of their ways.
Nice, Chrome underlined boeuff (above, corrected now) for me and would have offered the correct speling if I'd right clicked. I've just used a dictionary!
That's even worse, the entire Belgian political system relies on a delicate balance between francophones and Dutch-speakers (as well as those German speakers in the east). Using English rarely offends anyone but implying that one group should use the other's language will get you into trouble.
"Cookie is an English borrow word from the Dutch ..."
Actually, it's called a 'loan' word. That's ok though because (as I understnd it) the Dutch language use of "lend/borrow/loan" doesn't map onto the English usage.
Then again, we did take it, with no intention of returning it, so is it a theft word?
While the Dutch language makes no immediate distinction between "lend" and "borrow", it would be a desperate or exceptionally arrogant man who tried to persuade a court that the ambiguity meant he had no responsibility to repay his bank. I wonder which of the two might apply in this case?
If that is all Facebork has then it does not bode well when it comes to trial.
FB should realise that Belgium does not have an equivalent of L'Academie Francaise. difficult when multiple languages are spoken in the country as a matter of course.
Give in FB before you get a lot more egg on your face. (French Toast Egg please)
Never have and never will sign up for FB so there is no point in banning me.
It's not that difficult to have multiple Academies in a multilingual country. Spain has several: at least one for each of the official languages, plus a couple for regional languages which aren't official languages even in their regions. See e.g. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor%C3%ADa:Academias_de_la_Lengua_en_Espa%C3%B1a
Facebook grumpily agreed soon after but not before promising to appeal the ruling and warning that by blocking its information gathering code, it was putting people's online security at risk.
This. The absolute, blatant gal of daring to state such sh*t as if it is a fact rather than one of the worst fictions ever to come out of Facebook other than "we care about your privacy" (closely followed by "give us your mobile number for your security, but I'm drifting off topic).
Every time I hear of Zuckerberg either directly or via his underpaid minions I get the impression we're dealing with someone who hasn't quite hit puberty emotionally. FB is a business built on classic US values such as making money by totally ignoring any pesky laws until you can either buy the law makers so they will no longer matter or get caught and then spent some of the ill gotten gains keeping the legal system from working by hosing it with the sort of nonsensical statements cited earlier. Ugh.
It's a good thing I avoided it. Next up: LinkedIn, but I don't have my test alias ready yet (amusingly, I already have people trying to "connect" with an entirely fictitious person :) ).
"Next up: LinkedIn, but I don't have my test alias ready yet (amusingly, I already have people trying to "connect" with an entirely fictitious person :) )."
I've already got one of those. Any native German speaker will know that's it's a pseudonym but it sails past US-based "real name please" requests.
To really confuse LinkedIn, choose your occupation carefully. Pick one that's nothing to do with IT or corporate job titles and all they've got to go on is your location.
Belgian cookies? I'll have several thanks.
1) $245B valuation is a stock market farce. It happens to be irrelevant in this discussion.
2) Social Interaction Data Mining Inc not comprehending the fact that there are entire countries where folks actually speak more than one language is only attributable to the fact that they have no perspective other than the glass box they call an office.
The older I get the more I find that the majority of those younger than I are utter twats with no ability to see anything outside of their own narrow experience. Sad really. I suppose that there are more than a few that *do* see outside their warm fuzzy bubble of black and white, but they are getting further and further between, or are getting drowned out in the avalanche of stupid that the interwebs has become.
Maybe the facebook turds - sorry, lawyers - could have taken a look at the "Woordenlijst der Nederlandse taal" (word list of the Dutch language) before they insulted the Belgian court with their nonsense. Hint: all the words they mentioned are in there. Loan words. Part of the Dutch language now.
Loan words. Part of the Dutch language now.
Not just in Dutch - plenty of other languages do the same. Dutch and Flemish are weird in that they sometimes combine chunks of English and Dutch to arrive at a new word that is in reality unnecessary, like "encrypteren" (to encrypt) instead of the already existing "versleutelen" (this happens more in Flemish as far as I can tell). If I recall correctly even the French have started to give up on their attempts to keep their language "pure", mainly because they had to invent new words to avoid the infiltration, and that caused more problems than it solved.
Anyway, this attempt is so beyond weak that they deserve to be laughed at for the rest of their (hopefully short) careers for this. They deserve to have their choice of words queried from now on, every single opening statement.
"soon after but not before promising to appeal the ruling and warning that by blocking its information gathering code, it was putting people's online security at risk. "
Specifically that last bit of the sentence. So not only are they stupid linguistically, their view on "people's online security" is heavily distorted and very laughable.
It's even worse in China.
Most people speak standard Mandarin Chinese to various levels of proficiency, and also their "local language". These range from mostly recognisable to a foreign Mandarin learner, to literally a different language. Some don't speak any Mandarin, and you need a translator to talk to them.
Globally I think monolingualism is the exception.
The US isn't monolingual, no matter what the citizens think. There's Spanish signs and speakers everywhere, products come with multiple languages on the instructions. In some places you'd be hard pressed to tell if you were in the USA or one of the Asian countries from the signage.
But... most USAians would deny the multilingual bit anyway.
"Too many Yanks seem to think that because they are monolingual, everyone else should be too."
Oddly, large swathes of the US are bi-lingual in English and Spanish, they have Spanish-only radio and TV channels yet they still can't seem to get their heads around the fact other countries might not speak English.
It's pretty recent history when there were large French and German speaking areas in the US too, possibly still are some smaller areas in some regions. Then of course there are all the native American languages too.
> Facebook has told the Belgian government that it cannot proceed with its privacy case against the social media giant because of its use of English terms
But surely England (you know: where English is spoken - and invented) can step in and "allow" the Belgians use of some of our words. Since the Americans actually speak american, not English, their argument seems invalid.
Of course, it's complicated, since the american word for their language is "English", although this is really just a failure of translation, than them trying to lay claim to an entire language. Especially when it's one they don't actually speak!
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So they will have to show the name "GezichtBoek" for the Flemish speakers of Belgium and something else for the French speakers.
As an organisation in Belgium you really don't want to annoy either language group in Belgium by persistently presenting them with the "wrong" version of your website. So that will present an interesting technical challenge for FaceBook if they are not allowed to set cookies in a user's browser.
The old adage "Be careful when you wish for something" springs to mind...
English terms like "cookie"
As a Brit, I don't recognise the term "cookie".
Oh look, I have found it in my OS X English Dictionary:
1 N. Amer. a sweet biscuit.
Nope, still don't understand it in the context of computers. Can we have our own Britsih English word please?
ORIGIN: early 18th cent.: from Dutch koekje ‘little cake’, diminutive of koek .
They've shot themselves in the foot with that one.
"Nope, still don't understand it [cookie] in the context of computers. Can we have our own Britsih English word please?"
A quick dodge into Wiki reveals that an HTTP Cookie derives from the term "Magic cookie" which in turn derives from "Fortune Cookie", a biscuit served as dessert which is accompanied by a piece of paper containing a "fortune". Curiously this originated in Chinese restaurants in the US, although the practice is unknown in China.
I.e. it's a cultural use of the word and specific to the US.
This and the earlier "security" excuse are so extremely weak that it can be concluded that Facebook's - most competent, no doubt - lawyers have no real defense here. A corollary is that Facebook has acted full well knowing that what they do is illegal (as the same or similarly competent lawyers must have throughly vetted what they do).
A corollary is that Facebook has acted full well knowing that what they do is illegal (as the same or similarly competent lawyers must have throughly vetted what they do)
OK, but that seems to be now standard MO for US companies.
"We have this great idea".
"Umm, there are some laws and shit stating you shouldn't do this"
"Great, that'll keep the competition away, and we'll just do more abroad"
"Good, let's make good profit until they catch us"
"What about ethics?"
"BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one!"
...ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!
Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major
record Social Media company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberatin' and conjugatin' the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.
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