Technology

Facebook privacy judgement 'waiting for translation'

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Image caption Facebook is facing a number of court cases about its privacy policies

A judgement requiring Facebook to make major changes to privacy settings in Belgium has been delayed while the court document is translated into English, the BBC has learned.

The case, brought by the Belgian Privacy Commission (BPC), required the social network to stop tracking non-users immediately or face a fine.

It was handed down on 9 November and Facebook was given 48 hours to comply.

Facebook said it was negotiating with the BPC.

"We met with the BPC and provided them specific solutions addressing their concerns about our security cookie. This cookie helped us stop more than 33,000 account takeover attempts in Belgium in the last month, and similar cookies are used by most major internet services.

"We look forward to resolving this without jeopardising people's safe and secure access to Facebook," said Alex Stamos, chief security officer, in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the BPC told the BBC the judgement had yet to be formally served to Facebook because it is "waiting for an English translation" of the 33 pages.

The case hinged on a tracking cookie that Facebook has used for the last five years.

Research commissioned by the Belgian privacy authority found that non-members who visited a facebook.com page had the datr cookie downloaded on to their browser.

The court agreed that Facebook should remove the cookie for non-members and said that, if Facebook failed to comply, it could face fines of up to 250,000 euros (£180,000) per day.

Austrian case

Meanwhile, Facebook's battles with privacy campaigner and Austrian law student Max Schrems continued as a case he is pursuing against the company reached the Austrian supreme court.

It will decide whether Mr Schrems can bring a class action suit against the social networking firm.

He is seeking to add one of his own complaints to thousands of others from Facebook users over alleged infringements of European Union privacy laws.

"It would not make a lot of sense for the court or the parties before it to file these claims as thousands of individual lawsuits - which we can still do if a 'class action' is not allowed. We therefore think that the 'class action' is not only legal but also the only reasonable way to deal with thousands of identical privacy violations by Facebook," Mr Schrems said in a statement.

The Austrian court may choose to refer the case the European Court of Justice, which has already ruled in his favour in another case.

It found last month that the Safe Harbour agreement, which allowed tech firms to send personal data from the EU to the US, was invalid.

The High Court of Ireland - the country where Facebook has its international headquarters - is currently investigating whether the firm's transfer of EU user data abided by the privacy laws and offered adequate protection to European citizens from US surveillance.

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