Facebook Breached EU Law  

 

Almost everyone here in Singapore has a Facebook account. Facebook is a platform for socialization and its influence transcends through territories and time. Although there are Singaporeans who do not consider Facebook for security reasons, more and more people sign up in Facebook.

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Facebook is facing an obstacle because there was a study showing that it is tracking users using cookies which breaches European Union privacy law. Belgian Data Protection Agency commissioned groups of researchers from Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography Department and Centre of Interdisciplinary Law and ICT of the University of Leuven.

It revealed that Facebook tracks the browsing of everyone who visits a specific page on its site even if users do not have an account or selected the tracking. The issue spins around the use of Facebook’s plugins such as “Like” button. “Like” button is imbedded on more than thirteen million sites including government sites.

Facebook imbeds tracking cookies when users visit any sites within the Facebook.com domain. When users visit third party sites, the cookies will be sent back to Facebook even if the users do not directly interact with the “Like” button.

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According to EU law, consent should be given before distributing a cookie or other tracking tools unless it is necessary for the network to provide such. Furthermore, the law also requires websites (including Facebook) to notify their users on the first visit to their site that it is using cookies and needed consent from the users.

Cookies are a small file attacked on the computer of the users by a website that specifically stores the settings and prior activities. Singaporeans are not particularly fond of cookies. Knowing this, it is important that we learn how to protect our data from sites.

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