Facebook cuts accessibility in Belgium in light of privacy concerns

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Due to a breach of privacy claim in Belgium, Facebook have said that they will, in response, limit content on the site to people who have logged in, until the social media giant can contest the ruling.

Currently, and in other countries, it is possible to view content on the social media site without logging into an account (assuming that the content is set to the ‘public’ privacy setting).

This is very useful to companies who utilise social media, as it means that it can reach people who don’t necessarily have an account with the site.

This also comes into play when people send or share videos or images hosted on Facebook.

However, this has been attested because of the way that Facebook track non-users, using in-browser cookies.

The cookie, known as Datr, according to Facebook, is used to protect better security for the members of the site, and that it prevents the creation of fake accounts, hijacking, and content theft. Apparently this is breaching certain privacies, according to the Beglian Privacy Commissioner (BPC).

Until the ruling is made, Facebook will limit the use of the cookie, which means that in order to keep the security of the site tight, it will have to stop content being publicly visible until the company can contest the ruling.

“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,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

“We’re disappointed we were unable to reach an agreement and now people will be required to log in or register for an account to see publicly available content on Facebook.”

“I think the other protection authorities all over Europe will be looking at this,” said Paul Bernal, a privacy commentator and law lecturer at the University of East Anglia.

“Belgium isn’t applying Belgian law, it’s applying European law, so if they’re applying it in Belgium why shouldn’t they apply it everywhere in Europe?”

This could cause major concern for businesses with a large social media presence, or who even rely on social media, in the country, and if the ruling does spread to other European countries, the effect could be much worse.

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