Facebook ordered to stop tracking non-users in France within three months

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Having faced its fair share of setbacks regarding non-user privacy in Europe, Facebook now faces a major hurdle in France.

The French data protection authority has ordered the social network to stop tracking non-users’ Web activity without their consent within three months or face fines.

The new ruling follows a major order last year, which ruled a data agreement that allowed companies to transfer data abroad illegal. Taking into account European apprehensions over mass U.S. government snooping, the EU data protection authorities stated that companies had three months to organize alternative methods for the transferring of data.

That deadline came to an end last week, allowing regulators to take legal action against companies that aren’t complying with the new rules. Just when it looked like Facebook’s time was up, the new ruling gives it some breathing space, but disregarding the new deadline will likely result in a penalty.

Similar to a recent order against Facebook’s tracking of non-users’ in Belgium, the issue lies with the platform’s use of cookies. According to the French ruling, Facebook tracks users by placing a cookie on their browser when they visit its site. This, claims the French data protection authority, is against the country’s privacy law.

The order also states that Facebook’s uses the cookies in question to gather information without the consent of users, which is then used for the purpose of advertising. Users should be given the option to opt-out of Facebook profiling in regards to personalised advertising content, claims the order.

In November of last year, Facebook bowed to pressure and agreed to fully comply with a Belgian court order regarding its tracking of non-users. Consequently, the platform agreed to block access to Facebook pages for non-users in the country and, where possible, to delete existing cookies for such users.

The latest order in France could see the social network forced to do the same or face the consequences. We have reached out to Facebook for a response and will update this article accordingly.

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