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Facebook is illegally tracking non-users in the EU

Facebook is facing a great deal of heat in the European Union where many countries are concerned with the ways in which the site collects data and in how it uses cookies to track its users.

The CNIL, France's data protection authority, has issued a formal notice to the company in regards to how it fails to comply with European data protection law.

CNIL has given Facebook three months to make the necessary changes to comply with the EU's laws. If the company is able to do this, it will not face sanctions from the data protection agency. Facebook is currently reviewing CNIL's order which it is confident that it currently complies with.

Facebook changed its privacy policy in 2014 which led to an investigation by the CNIL. The organisation was very disappointed with the way in which the company collects the browsing activity of internet users who are not even members of the social network. Facebook does not inform users that a cookie is left on a users' computer when they visit a public page. For instance if a user visits a Facebook public page about an event such as a concert or the public profile of a Facebook user a cookie will be left on their computer by the company. These cookies are able to send information back to Facebook when an internet user visits a page that contains Facebook plug-ins.

User data about sexual orientation, religious beliefs and political views are also collected by Facebook without explicit consent from its users. When signing up for the site, users are also not properly informed of the ways in which the company will collect and use their data according to the CNIL.

Advertising cookies are also set up by Facebook without properly informing users and obtaining their consent. CNIL is also concerned that users have no way to prevent their info from being compiled and used for targeted advertising.

Facebook will have to comply with CNIL's requests if plans to continue operating in the EU where the social network currently has around 300 million users.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / JuliusKielaitis

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.