Facebook uses Irish headquarters to skirt privacy laws

Facebook has won an appeal against a court ruling that said the social network could not store data about people who did not have an account. It had been ruled that Facebook could not gather data about non-users in Belgium; Facebook responded by blocking access to those without an account.

Back in 2015, Facebook was told to stop this blocking or face hefty daily fines. Facebook felt that the ruling was unfair and appealed. In a new ruling today, the Brussels Court of Appeal said: "Belgian courts don't have international jurisdiction over Facebook Ireland, where the data concerning Europe is processed."

Facebook had been ordered to stop storing data about internet users without an account with the social network. The threat of €250,000 ($277,800) a day prompted the company to fight back against the Belgian data protection commission and today's ruling overturned that of the previous court. Facebook will now allow Belgians without accounts to access pages on the site.

The crux of the case is that Facebook is headquartered in Ireland. This meant that - regardless of the rights or wrongs of what Facebook has done - the court in Belgium was simply not able to wield any power over the social network.

Ireland has been used by many companies as a handy way to funnel income whilst avoiding hefty tax bills, and it seems the country could become a means of avoiding certain laws as well.

In a statement responding to the ruling, Facebook said: We are pleased with the court’s decision and look forward to bringing all our services back online for people in Belgium.

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