Facebook hit with fresh wave of data protection complaints

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Facebook has come under fire from a Belgian data privacy watchdog for allegedly violating European law with its latest privacy policy update.

Although academics from the University of Leuven said the changes were not dramatic, they confirmed Facebook has been acting in violation of European law for sometime.

The complaint referred to how data is gathered about people, what is done with that data once it has been collected and how people are informed of these practices.

It continued to explain the social network's settings were too complicated, meaning people could not make an informed choice about how to change their privacy and did not realise they may be surrendering data they wanted to keep private.

The group said Facebook needs to be clearer about presenting information regarding privacy, and allow users to easily obtain insights into how their data is being used by the company.

Facebook responded to the complaint saying its privacy policy and terms and conditions were overseen by the Irish data protection commissioner who ensures the policies Facebook is putting in place and the information users are exposed to is clear and concise. The commissioner is also responsible for ensuring the company complies with European laws about data gathering and use.

At the beginning of February, an EU taskforce was set up to prove Facebook is violating EU privacy laws. Although Facebook's privacy policy states it collects information when you visit or use third-party websites and apps involving the website, including when someone clicks the Like button or Facebook Log In on another site, it says this information is clearly stated.

"This includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our Services on those websites and apps, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us," it says.

A spokeswoman for Bart Tommelein, Belgium's state secretary for privacy, said the new laws "flagrantly go against general privacy laws in Europe. These are several things that really go too far, we think, and the task force will investigate them," she continued.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.