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    Facebook Found Guilty of Illegal, 'Sexual Preference' User Tracking in EU States

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    Facebook has been found guilty in France and the Netherlands of tracking users' data - including their sexual preferences - on websites other than their own social platform without their knowledge and is facing further legal action in Belgium, Germany and Spain.

    The French authorities announced, May 16, that Facebook had collected data on the browsing activity — outside of Facebook — of users, processing that information and passing it on to advertisers in order to better target their campaigns.

    "Facebook proceeded to a massive compilation of personal data of Internet users in order to display targeted advertising. It has also been noticed that Facebook collected data on browsing activity of internet users on third-party websites, via the 'dattr' cookie, without their knowledge," the French Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL) said in a statement.

    ​The social media giant has been ordered to pay a fine of US$165,400 which the CNIL said, considering the significant number of users in France (33 millions), the seriousness and the numbers of infringements — six — was justified.

    Sexual Preferences

    Meanwhile, the Dutch authorities issued Facebook with a warning that is could hit the company with sanctions unless it changes its policies.

    "Facebook Group violates Dutch data protection law. That is the conclusion of the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) after its investigation into the processing of personal data of 9.6 million Facebook users in the Netherlands," the DPA said in a statement.

    ​"The company breaches Dutch data protection law including by giving users insufficient information about the use of their personal data. The Dutch DPA has also found that the Facebook Group uses sensitive personal data from users without their explicit consent. For example, data relating to sexual preferences were used to show targeted advertisements.

    "The Facebook Group has made changes to end the use of this type of data for this latter purpose. The Dutch DPA currently assesses whether the other violations have stopped. If that is not the case, the Dutch DPA may decide to issue a sanction," the DPA said.

    Three other countries — Belgium, Germany and Spain — are also considering taking action against Facebook amid growing anger that the social media giant is abusing the human rights of EU citizens.

    The company is also facing an EU investigation over allegations the company provided incorrect or misleading information during the Commission's 2014 investigation under the EU Merger Regulation of Facebook's planned acquisition of WhatsApp.

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    Tags:
    social media, data collection, human rights, privacy, European Commission, Facebook, European Union, Germany, Spain, Europe, Belgium, Netherlands, France
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