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Belgian privacy watchdog sicks its lawyers on Facebook for privacy violations

Belgium’s privacy watchdog the Commission for the Protection of Privacy (CPP) announced Monday that it will be escalating a dispute against Facebook brought on by increasing privacy concerns. The grievances include claims that Facebook is tracking its users’ activity across the Web to sell targeted advertisements. According to the CPP, Facebook is keeping an eye on people who don’t even have an account on the social media site. The CPP finally took legal action after its investigation last month didn’t reveal enough information.

A joint effort to address privacy concerns with Facebook proved futile, even with Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain all working together. “We did not get satisfactory answers so this was the next step,” said a spokeswoman for the CPP. Its concerns more specifically outlined that Facebook is using its “like” buttons all over the Web to collect information it can then use in targeted advertising. The commission has requested that the court immediately ban Facebook from monitoring non-user activities through the use of cookies and any other methods.

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Facebook has not exactly been enthusiastic in its response. Facebook said that the CPP had agreed to a meeting on Friday, and that it found the decision to take the U.S company to court on Thursday “theatrical.” The social media giant was also quick to remind the CPP that it is only bound by Irish law. “We remain happy to work with them in an effort to resolve their concerns, through a dialogue with us at Facebook Ireland and with our regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner,” Facebook stated.

The social network has defended itself by insisting, somewhat accurately, that using cookies to collect user data and create targeted advertising, is an industry standard. While that may well be the case, European agencies in the recent past have been working overtime to protect the citizens of European Union countries from having their privacy unduly violated. Facebook is not the only U.S firm that is under scrutiny.

The hearing is set for Thursday June 18 in Brussels. We’ll keep you updated on its progress.