U.S. and EU privacy and consumer groups called on privacy regulators to stop Facebook’s plans to gather the Internet browsing patterns of its users while they visit other sites.
The groups, gathered in the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) to stop Facebook collecting the web browsing activities of Internet users in order to target advertising. They made the request in a letter sent to the authorities on Tuesday. Facebook’s European headquarters is in Ireland, giving the Irish data protection commissioner responsibility for defending its European users’ personal data and privacy rights under EU law.
The privacy groups expressed “deep alarm” about Facebook’s June announcement that it would start tracking information from some of the websites and apps its users are visiting in order to serve more relevant ads.
At the time, Facebook said: “When we ask people about our ads, one of the top things they tell us is that they want to see ads that are more relevant to their interests,” the company said at the time, adding that in the U.S. it would “soon” start tracking users’ off-site surfing behavior. Anyone who doesn’t want to be tracked can opt out via the Digital Advertising Alliance website.
But on Tuesday the groups said: “Facebook already installs cookies and pixel tags on users’ computers to track browsing activity on Facebook.com and Facebook apps. If Facebook is permitted to expand its data collection practices, those cookies and pixel tags will also track users’ browsing activity on any website that includes a few lines of Facebook code.”
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