France makes landmark privacy ruling against Facebook

Social Network has been hit with two orders from French authorities

French authorities have ordered Facebook to stop collecting data of non-users without consent and instucted the company to stop transferring some user data betwen the EU and the United States.

The French data protection authority has given the social network just three months to comply with the order, Reuters reports.

This is the first time a country has made a legal order against a company in relation to the transfer of data between Europe and the US, since an EU court last year ordered an end to the transatalntic Safe Harbour deal, which allowed Facebook and other US companeis, who are absed in th EU, to avoid EU privacy laws. Facebook have claimmd they did not use Safe Harbour to transfer data to the US.

Safe Harbour was done away with over concerns about US government snooping on European citizens’ data, which is stored in Europe. When Safe Harbour was ended in October the court ruling gave companies three months to arange an alternative, legal system for transferring data. The deadline expired on January 6, allowing authorities to prosecute any company yet to swith toa new system.

"Facebook transfers personal data to the United States on the basis of Safe Harbour, although the Court of Justice of the European Union declared invalid such transfers in its ruling of October 6, 2015," the French CNIL said in a statement.

"Protecting the privacy of the people who use Facebook is at the heart of everything we do. We ... look forward to engaging with the CNIL to respond to their concerns,” a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters.

Since that decision there has been something of a vacuum, with little clear sign yet of what will eventually replace Safe Harbour, meaning France’s decision carries significant weight as the first action from a European government since the October ruling.

The French authorities also ruled that Facebook was to stop storing cookies ont eh computers of non-users. The site currently sotres cookies on the computers of anyone who views a pag, regaless of if they are signed up to the site.

When these users then move on to another page, Facebook stores data on that users’ online activity when they visits any sites witha Facbook plugin.

Belgium has preiously forced Facebook to stop tracking non-users.