France to Facebook: Stop Collecting Data from Non-Users


FacebookThe French privacy watchdog ordered Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) to stop collecting data from people who do not have user account with the social network giant.

In a statement, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) said Facebook failed to comply with the French Data Protection Act based on its onsite and online investigation and documentary audit on the company’s privacy policy.

The CNIL and the data protection authorities in Belgium, Hamburg, Spain, and the Netherlands made a decision to investigate the social network giant’s the data collection activities. The five European privacy watchdogs launch the investigation in March 2015 after Facebook amended its privacy policy.

Facebook committed serious failures

In a statement, the CNIL said it was compelled to issue the order against Facebook publicly because of the gravity of its in-compliance with the French Data Protection Act.

“The formal notice is made public due to the seriousness of the violations and the number of individuals concerned by the Facebook service (more than 30 million users in France),” according to the French privacy watchdog.

Facebook data collection activities

According to the CNIL, Facebook violated the French Data Protection Act by collecting data on the browsing activity of internet users who do not have a user account with the company, without prior information. The company also does not inform internet users that a cookie is set up on their terminal once they visit a public page on Facebook.

The social network giant collects data regarding the sexual orientation, religious, and political views of its users without obtaining an explicit consent from them. The company also failed to inform users regarding their rights and the processing of their personal data on the sign up form.

The social network giant sets up cookies for advertising purposes without informing internet users and obtaining their consent. It compiles all the collected information about internet users to display targeted advertising.

The CNIL said the social network giant does not provide tools for account holders to prevent the compilation of their data—a fundamental violation of their rights and interests including their right to respect for private life.

Furthermore, the French privacy watchdog said Facebook transfers personal data to the United States in the basis on Safe Harbor. However, the CNIL said such transfers were declared invalid by the European Union Court of Justice in its ruling on October 6, 2015.

Facebook’s response

In response to the CNIL’s order, Facebook spokeswoman Sally Aldous said, “Protecting the privacy of the people who use Facebook is at the heart of everything we do. We are confident that we comply with European Data Protection law and look forward to engaging with the CNIL to respond to their concerns.”

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