Menu
Facebook will block Belgians without accounts from access to its content

Facebook will block Belgians without accounts from access to its content

The restriction will be an offshoot of its meeting a local order to stop tracking people without accounts

Facebook has outlined its plans to follow a court ruling in Belgium requiring it not to track people who do not have accounts on the social networking website.

The company said it was giving the details ahead of the order being served on it by the Belgian Privacy Commission, which is expected later this week.

Among the steps Facebook plans to take is to require people without Facebook accounts in Belgium to create accounts and log in to the social networking website before they can see its publicly available pages and other content, the company said.

"Today, anyone can see Facebook pages for small businesses, sports teams, celebrities and tourist attractions without logging into Facebook—typically found using a search engine," a Facebook spokesman said in an email.

A court in Belgium last month passed an interim order asking the company to stop tracking users that do not have accounts on the social networking website, or risk fines.

The dispute largely hinges around Facebook's use of a special cookie called 'datr' that it claims helps it distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate visits to its website, and identifies browsers and not individuals. Facebook claims that by using the security cookie it protected Belgian people from more than 33,000 takeover attempts in the past month.

But technical experts assisting the Belgian Privacy Commission found that when a user not signed on to Facebook visited the website, the datr cookie was set with a two-year lifetime. When they thereafter visited a Web page on gayworld.be, a website that includes a Facebook social plug-in, the inspection of the network traffic revealed that the datr cookie was sent to the facebook.com domain in the cookie header of the HTTP requests, according to the experts.

In a letter on Tuesday to the Belgian Privacy Commission, Facebook said that while it plans to appeal the court's ruling, it will comply with the order in the meantime. The company said it would cease setting datr cookies for non-registered users in Belgium, and delete existing datr cookies for such users to the extent it is technically feasible.

The removal of the datr cookies will, however, have implications on the services Facebook offers unregistered users in Belgium, because of the security role it claims the cookies play. "Since the datr cookie provides protections against content scraping and application-level denial of service attacks, we will only be able to offer access to content to people in Belgium with Facebook accounts," the Facebook spokesman said.

Registered Facebook users in Belgium that attempt to login to their account from an unrecognized Web browser may also need to complete additional security steps, such as entering a security code or identifying their friends in a photo.

Facebook claims the controls related to datr have been evaluated and validated many times by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.  The company claims that it has only one establishment in the European Union in Ireland, and Irish national data protection law can be applied to all its European users, according to records.  But the Belgian Privacy Commission asserted jurisdiction because, among other reasons, the local processor Facebook Belgium was a permanent establishment in Belgian territory being run by Facebook in the U.S.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments