Facebook Is Now a Little Less Accessible in Belgium

4 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Is Now a Little Less Accessible in Belgium.

The change—a response to the recent privacy ruling—means that public content, including profiles of local businesses, will be blocked to anyone without a Facebook account. The company’s action means Belgians will have to log into Facebook before they can see Facebook pages, forcing them to create and sign into an account if they want to view the pages or related content. Though the change is for now restricted to users in Belgium, lawyers have previously told The Independent that the effects of the ruling are likely to spread across Europe, meaning that the change could come to the entire continent.

The company is appealing, but agreed to require these logins in the meantime rather than removing tracking cookies altogether. “We had hoped to address the BPC’s concerns in a way that allowed us to continue using a security cookie that protected Belgian people from more than 33,000 takeover attempts in the past month,” a Facebook spokeswoman told PCMag. “We’re disappointed we were unable to reach an agreement and now people will be required to login or register for an account to see publicly available content on Facebook,” the company said. At issue is Facebook’s use of a so-called “datr” cookie, which it places on users’ browsers when they visit Facebook or click a Facebook “Like” button on other sites, allowing it to track the activities of that browser. Facebook says the tiny bit of software code only identifies browsers, not individuals, and helps Facebook to distinguish legitimate visits from those by attackers. “(Removing the cookie) will cause a marginal privacy hit.

The Belgian Privacy Commission, however, did not buy it, and in May presented its concerns and recommendations to the social media firm, asking that it be more transparent. The site claimed that the tracking and the cookies required to do it were important for blocking takeover attempts of people’s accounts and attacks against the site. Facebook plans to appeal against the court ruling but, in complying with the order, expects it will no longer face a €250,000 (£177,000) daily fine.

The company will instead implement “other safety- and security-related measures,” including additional checkpoints to verify the identity of anyone accessing Facebook.com. The company has argued that Belgium has no authority on this issue, since it has its European headquarters in Ireland and as such should be policed solely by regulators there.

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