Today a delegation of Facebook is meeting with the Belgian ‘Secretary of State’ responsible for Privacy , Bart Tommelein. The subject of conversation are Facebook’s new terms of service and data policy, which are claimed to be in breach of the Belgian Data Protection Act. This afternoon, the Facebook delegation is also expected to meet with the President of the Belgian Privacy Commission, Willem Debeuckelaere, to discuss the new terms. The meetings have been requested by Facebook itself following statements made in the press by the Belgian authorities saying that the new terms were in breach of applicable laws.

Some key changes introduced by the new data policy and terms of service foresee that Facebook will:

  • own information that relates to users but is not posted by users (e.g. pictures in which one is ‘tagged’ by another person),
  • track user’s browsing behavior to understand what users like on websites,
  • know what devices users use to access the website (type of device, telephone number, telecom provider, etc.), and
  • use user’s GPS, Bluetooth and wifi to determine user’s location at all times and without asking for consent, and use this location data for commercial purposes.

The outcome of the discussions remains to be seen, however, ahead of today’s meeting, the Belgian DPA has already warned that if no solution can be reached which is more considerate of the users’ privacy, it will not refrain from initiating legal proceedings against the tech giant. The Belgian Privacy Commission is supported by other European Data Protection Authorities, (for instance the CBP in the Netherlands) who have voiced their concerns regarding the new terms, and have in some cases launched further investigations into the terms.