• A Dutch court decided that Facebook was not legally authorized to collect local user data to target ads.
  • Facebook tried to get the suit over procedural issues however, Judges declared at the end of July that they can continue with the lawsuit.
  • The Data Privacy Stichting (DPS) as well as the Dutch consumer group Consumentenbond were suing Facebook in the year 2019.

The Data Privacy Stichting (DPS) brought the suit against Facebook in the year 2019 with the help of Consumentenbond, the Dutch Consumer Association Consumentenbond. DPS DPS is an online watchdog that claims to protect users’ rights online from exploitation by corporations.
They assert they discovered that from April 2010 to Jan. 2020 Facebook unlawfully utilized the data of millions of Dutch citizens to advertise. In their suit against Facebook, the DPS as well as the Consumentenbond asserted that Facebook had violated EU laws on the protection of data.

The failure to obtain permission from the user to use their data for advertising purposes is a clear example of privacy violations. They also urged residents to join in the court case to pursue collective redress via settlement from Facebook.

in 2021 Facebook was able to obtain the lawsuit dismissed based on procedural reasons. The social media platform claims that due to the geographical location the location of their European Headquarters in Ireland the court is unable to decide cases in the Netherlands. Facebook said its position was that the Dutch court was not able to rule on the matter because Facebook is governed by Irish laws.

Facebook has also stated its position that DPS did not have the right to pursue lawsuits against Facebook since it wasn’t an injured person. In July 2021, however, The Amsterdam District Court dismissed these objections. The court let the case proceed and scheduled the hearing later in the year.

The Amsterdam District Court ruled on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023, that Facebook did violate the law in its data processing practices.

The court found that Facebook was illegally using the personal data of its users to promote its products. The court also stated that not only did Facebook utilize the data for marketing purposes but also shared the data with other organizations without having permission to do so.

According to the court’s decision, Facebook violated the law when it processed the personal data from Dutch Facebook users between April 1st of 2010, and January 1st, 2020. Additionally, an Amsterdam district court also ruled that Facebook did not inform users of the possibility of sharing their personal information. In the opinion of the judge, Facebook was also a shady company when it shared information about friends of users.

In a separate assertion, DPS and Consumentenbond stated that the use of cookies to place ads on websites owned by third parties was illegal.

Cookies are a type of digital tracker used to track advertising and servers can make use of them to determine the user. They stated that Facebook assigned the responsibility of educating users of cookies to third-party webmasters.

The judges, however, did not accept the claim of cookie usage by websites owned by third parties. The court ruled that it’s the responsibility of the website’s third party and not Facebook’s responsibility to inquire from visitors whether they wish to consent or not.

Reactions follow the court’s judgment
The DPS chairman, Dick Bouma, praised the court’s decision, noting that it allowed consumers to claim compensation through Facebook. While the court didn’t make a ruling on these assertions, Bouma remained optimistic about his compensation claims. He also said that the ball is at Facebook’s feet to create the compensation debate.

The decision was described as “extremely significant” by Consumentenbond. Facebook shouldn’t have made use of information from thousands of Dutch users to promote its products According to Consumerenbond. They also noted that the court’s decision is a clear warning for other companies in the tech industry that violate privacy laws.

As a response to this decision that was issued on Wednesday afternoon Facebook announced that they would be responding later. Meta the parent company of Facebook was ecstatic in a press release to TechCrunch. According to Facebook, the court decided in its favor regarding certain claims. Facebook has also announced that it is appealing to certain aspects of the matter.

Meta also assured Dutch users of the importance of their privacy. In addition, they explained that users have control over the use of their data by using tools like the Privacy Checkup tool and Privacy Basics.