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Facebook to defend privacy policies in Brussels court

21:26 12/10/2017

Lawyers representing Facebook will give evidence in a Brussels court on Friday in a closely watched legal case brought by Belgium's Privacy Commission.

The watchdog, in its opening remarks in court on Thursday, accused the social media giant of "mass monitoring" and systematically collecting data about the browsing behaviour of internet users who do not even have a Facebook account, without their knowledge or consent.

It is seeking a court order forcing Facebook to stop collecting data for advertising purposes, or face fines of €250,000 a day for non-compliance.

The case focuses on the use of plug-ins on third-party websites - buttons encouraging visitors to like or share a page on Facebook. The Privacy Commission's lawyers describe these as "very invasive", claiming they leave cookies on people's computers for up to two years.

"The information that Facebook provides about this is vague, incomplete and misleading," the commission's lawyers said in court.

Facebook will give its defence in court on Friday. In a statement, the company disputed the watchdog's claims and said it had long respected European privacy legislation.

"We have recently rewritten the texts of our policies to make them clearer and more accessible - so that users in Belgium and elsewhere understand how we use information and cookies to improve Facebook services," the statement said.

"We have set up teams, from engineering to design, focusing on private data protection, and we have designed powerful tools that allow people to make choices while keeping control of their data."