The Brussels Court of First Instance, which has jurisdiction in all disputes that are not assigned by law to other courts, has warned Facebook to quit tracking Belgian citizens' online habits, and to delete all the data it holds on them, or else it will have to pay a €100m fine.
The news comes after a German court declared Facebook’s data collection policies in support of advertising to be illegal, dealing a significant blow to the social media powerhouse.
It was the Belgian Privacy Commission which first brought the case to the court to check the information that Facebook collects about web browsing.
According to Belgian site Bruzz, Anouk Devenyns, the press judge at the court, said: "This research shows that Facebook collects information about us when we surf the Internet, using Facebook for various technologies, such as the well-known "cookies," the so-called "social plug-ins," such as the" like "button or the "share" button, or even the "pixels," which are invisible to the naked eye.
"Facebook uses this on its own website but also and especially on third-party websites, for example, the research shows that even if you have never visited the Facebook domain, Facebook can still follow your surfing behavior without you realizing it, let alone, on the basis of those invisible pixels, which Facebook has placed on more than 10,000 other websites.
"Facebook does not inform us enough about the fact that it collects information about us, about the nature of the information it collects about us, about what it does with that information and about how long it stores that information," he added.
Philippe De Backer, secretary of state for combating social fraud, privacy and the North Sea tweeted (translated): "What a victory for privacy! Secretly following someone on the internet without knowing it is clearly not possible! Important milestone for the #privacy in our country and Europe."