Shares in Facebook fell 1.12 (1.37%) today as Belgium announced that it is leading a lawsuit against the social media goliath over privacy issues.
The country’s independent Privacy Commission, in concert with other bodies in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain, is protesting about the ubiquity of Facebook cookies, which are often delivered via third-party means such as social sharing modules or widgets, enabling Facebook to extend its user-monitoring and analysis far beyond the realms of its own domains.
The suit is being brought about after the commission failed to elicit satisfactory answers from Facebook about its use of user-tracking.
A spokeswoman for the Commission for the Protection of Privacy (CPP) said “We did not get satisfactory answers so this was the next step,”
The CPP has requested an immediate ban for Facebook on monitoring users, particularly those who are not even logged into, or perhaps members, of Facebook, and the court will convene on the matter on Thursday.
Many reporting this news note that it sits within a current strain of antagonism between Europe and the apparent hegemony of large U.S. interests, a theme which has been brought to the fore in recent weeks by the delays, public doubts and controversy about the deal, which would open up freer trade between the United States and Europe on what some are saying are absurdly favourable terms for the U.S., such as clauses which would prevent American investment into previously public utilities from ever being subject to re-nationalisation.
Comment Facebook are in the vanguard of a new movement towards surveillance which is entirely funded and encouraged by the end-user. Many who feared the grim prophecies of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four might not have guessed that the citizens of Oceania would be queuing up to buy their own telescreens and enthusiastically installing the monitoring software that would reveal so much about them – including their whereabouts.