National Post (Latest Edition)

Eu eyes wider reach on Big tech

- Philip blenkinsop

BRUSSELS • The adviser to the Eu’s top court has issued a recommenda­tion to allow data protection agencies in any Eu country to take legal action against Facebook or any other tech firm even if their regional headquarte­rs are in a different Eu state.

The recommenda­tion was issued after Facebook sought to rebuff Belgium’s privacy regulator in a data case by saying its European union headquarte­rs were in dublin and so Ireland was the lead authority in the Eu for the u.s. social media giant.

Advocate-general Michal Bobek, the adviser to the Court of Justice of the European union, recommende­d that the data protection agency in any Eu country should be able to take legal action in various situations even if they were not the lead authority.

If the recommenda­tion is followed, it could prompt action by national agencies in the 27-member Eu against other u.s. tech companies, such as Google, Twitter and Apple, which also have their Eu headquarte­rs in Ireland.

Facebook did not provide an immediate comment.

Eu judges often follow advocate-general opinions but do not have to. They usually deliver a ruling in two to four months.

Belgium’s regulator sought to stop Facebook gathering data on the browsing behaviour of Belgian users to show them targeted advertisin­g without their valid consent. The regulator said this took place even if the user did not have a Facebook account.

Facebook challenged this on the basis that the Irish privacy watchdog is the lead authority for Facebook.

Eu privacy rules, known as the General data Protection regulation (Gdpr), give leeway for other national privacy regulators to rule on violations limited to a specific country. France and Germany have already done this.

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