Facebook has been accused many times of either gathering information on its users without consent or disregarding privacy Laws.Now Belgium is Taking Facebook to court over the same issues.
Belgium’s Commission for the Protection of Privacy, is taking Facebook to court regarding Privacy Policies.
Initially Belgium’s CPP notified Facebook that its practices were not in accord with the country’s laws regarding Privacy and Human Rights. Facebook declined to answer saying that all of it’s services in the E.U. were in conformity with Irish laws.
Facebook is one of the many companies with their headquarters in Ireland, for 2 reasons, one is the low tax rate Ireland has and the second is the nation’s more than loose restrictions on affecting Privacy Policies.
Under E.U. law, a company that works within the bounds of a E.U. Nation’s laws has the right to operate in any other country belonging to the European Union unhindered.
The Belgians, disagree and have decided to take Facebook to court, in an effort to force them to comply with their national laws and not Ireland.
However serious questions arise considering the fact that Facebook gathering of data through “like” buttons, can affect citizens which have not agreed to any of the website’s terms and conditions.
E.U law also states clearly that this kind of data gathering done without the subjects consent is illegal.
Thus the fact that Belgium is taking Facebook to court might have serious reasoning as a decision.
The problem has appeared before with many citizens including Facebook users themselves criticizing the website’s operating policies.
The first thing to consider is that Facebook’s “terms and agreements” are written in judicial language making it harder for people to understand what they are agreeing to. This means that even if you read the stuffy list of things you are agreeing to , you still might not understand it.
One of Facebook’s statements regarding “terms and conditions” can be found under “Statement of Right and Responsibilities ” on the 4th point named “Registration and account Security”
This statement says that “You will not provide false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone than yourself without permission.
This beg’s the question Why?
Facebook has a lot of applications and uses some of which concern private activities like “dating”. So what are we to understand? That Facebook does not allow you to say you are not married or do not have children if you do. And what happens if you do?
There is also the question of why does Facebook care if you provide photo shopped pictures of yourself or introduce any other “lies” as private information.
Many consider policies like this and others make users doubt Facebook honesty towards its customers .
Another shining example of “weird” terms which you are obliged to accept in order to use Facebook, is the following:
“You will keep your contact information, accurate and up to date.”
Found under the same “Registration and Account Security” chapter, the “responsibility” makes many users dislike Facebook’s operation system and ask why would anyone be required to constantly update contact information. The statement does not explain, which kind of Private Information is to be updated.
Users cannot understand if for example they go on vacation and thus change their location, are they obliged to update it? What is the maximum time-frame allowed in which you can update you address or phone number? And so on…
So in the end the Belgian Government might have a point when addressing what they see as worrying breaches of Human Rights concerning Privacy.
Image Source: theguardian.com