[JURIST] The Belgian Privacy Commission [official website] announced Monday that it is suing Facebook [corporate website] for alleged violations of Belgian and European privacy laws [materials]. In May, the commission issued Facebook a set of recommendations [text, PDF] urging the social media site to stop tracking users. Making the announcement, commission president Willem Debeuckelaere [ICA profile] said [DeMorgen report, in Dutch] “we cannot continue to negotiate through other means…. We want a judge to impose our recommendations. These recommendations are chiefly aimed at protecting internet users who are not Facebook members.” Facebook has responded [Reuters report] to the commission’s lawsuit, saying it should only be subject to the laws of Ireland, where its European data centers are located.
Online privacy has become a matter of increasing concern around the world in recent years. In March 92 non-governmental organizations from around the world issued a statement [text] calling on the UN Human Rights Council [official website] to institute [JURIST report] a Special Rapporteur on Privacy. Earlier that month the District Court of The Hague struck down [JURIST report] a Dutch data retention law, holding that it violates privacy rights of EU citizens. Last July former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] over the widespread lack of transparency in governmental digital surveillance practices. Also in July civil liberties groups sued [JURIST report] the UK Secret Intelligence Service [official website], alleging that the agency unlawfully accesses private data from undersea cables. Last April the European Court of Justice [official website] struck down [JURIST report] an EU-wide law that stipulates how private data must be collected and stored.