Facebook has been given 48 hours by a Belgian court to stop tracking people in the country who are not members of its social network.
The social networking website said that it planned to appeal against the decision arguing that the order was in relation to a cookie it had used for five years.
The cookie in question is installed when an internet user visits a Facebook page even if they are not members. Cookies are simple files that track whether a user has visited a website before and notify the site itself. They can track a number of user activities, such as how long they stayed, what they clicked and any preferences selected.
However, the Belgian court rejected its argument saying that the Facebook was obliged to obtain consent to collect the information being gathered.
A statement from the court said, “The judge ruled that this is personal data, which Facebook can only use if the internet user expressly gives their consent, as Belgian privacy law dictates.”
Facebook could face a daily fine of 250,000 euros (Rs 1.8 crore) if it failed to comply with the order. According to the court, the fine would go to the Belgian Privacy Commission, which brought the case.
“We’ve used the Datr cookie for more than five years to keep Facebook secure for 1.5 billion people around the world,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
“We will appeal this decision and are working to minimise any disruption to people’s access to Facebook in Belgium.”