EU court opinion leaves Facebook more exposed over privacy


London: Any EU country can take legal action against companies like Facebook over cross-border violations of data privacy rules, not just the main regulator in charge of the company, a top court adviser said on Wednesday. The preliminary opinion is part of a long-running legal battle between Facebook and Belgium’s data protection authority over the company’s use of cookies to track the behaviour of internet users, even those who weren’t members of the social network.

The advice from the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General Michal Bobek also paves the way for an onslaught of fresh data privacy cases across the EU, experts said. The opinion, which is often followed by the court, comes ahead of a formal decision by the ECJ’s judges expected later this year. Facebook argues that the Belgian watchdog, which launched the case in 2015, no longer has jurisdiction after the EU’s strict General Data Protection Regulation took effect in 2018.

The company says that under GDPR, only one national data protection authority has the power to handle legal cases involving cross-border data complaints – a system known as “onestop shop.” In Facebook’s case, it’s the Data Protection Commission in Ireland, where the company’s European headquarters is based. Privacy advocates and experts said the advice could change how data privacy cases are handled, by taking the pressure off a single watchdog

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