Facebook wins privacy case in Belgium

The Belgium Court of Appeal has overturned the DPA’s decision on Facebook not being compliant with Belgium’s data protection law. The case concerned Facebook using a cookie to monitor non-Facebook members’ browsing habits when they visit Facebook pages.

The court now says, contrary to the DPA’s view, that Belgian courts have no jurisdiction over Facebook Inc, which has based its European headquarters in Ireland. Facebook has always said that only Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner has jurisdiction over its data processing in Europe.

The DPA originally asked Facebook to stop tracking non-Facebook users and imposed a fine of 250,000 Euros per day. Facebook amended its data collection process in Belgium and, therefore, did not need to pay this fine.

The Belgian DPA may appeal to the higher level Court of Cassation on its substantive case, and is considering this option. "Today’s decision [taken on 29th]] simply means that the Belgian citizen cannot obtain protection of privacy by the courts vis-à-vis foreign players. This citizen is thus exposed to massive violation of privacy,” Willem Debeuckelaere, President of the Privacy Commission, said.

See https://www.privacycommission.be/fr/news/la-cour-d%E2%80%99appel-rejette-les-arguments-vis-%C3%A0-vis-de-facebook

Joёlle Jouret, Legal Advisor at Belgium’s Privacy Commission, will speak at two sessions at the Privacy Laws & Business 29th Annual International Conference in Cambridge next week (‘How DPAs will interpret articles and recitals in the EU DP Regulation’ and ‘Expectations of stronger international enforcement via the Global Privacy Enforcement Network’ in which she will comment on the Facebook case.