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Spain Fines Facebook Over Tracking Users Without Consent (tomshardware.com)
645 points by thg on Sept 14, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 193 comments

Facebook tried to pull a similar gimmick in India called "Free Basics". It was dealt with criticism and the regulatory authority in India was smart enough to reject the proposal. Reliance, one of the sheepskin corporation in India wanted to embrace Free Basics with Facebook but could not. Now Reliance is trying a similar act with "Jio" cellphones.

Its a good thing that many countries are realizing that US based monopolies are not good for their economy. Take China for example, their companies are well off like AliPay, WeChat, Tencent. Its because they are protected from monopolies who have the firepower to kill them. Keeping the monopolies in check will spur the growth & innovation in developing countries.

To paint a less rosy picture, many countries are good at keeping out US based tracking / social media monopolies because they want to support their own tracking / social media monopolies. It's kind of a "well, duh" moment that China is going to support its own Internet services rather than let that data be collected by people in the United States.

Russia has a similar government-backed Internet services ecosystem going on, although they dropped the ball on blogging and wound up having to do a complex operation to buy Livejournal (where all the Russians were) and move the servers to Russian territory.

>To paint a less rosy picture...

I think different companies, although they may be monopolies in their own right, spread out over multiple countries is still preferable to a global monopoly. Not just because of data collection, also regarding keeping tech know-how locally for example.

It really isn't. Competition globally is better for consumers. Imagine if you had to drive only US cars to keep automotive knowledge local.

What Facebook (or for that matter Google) does is not competition. They're far too large to really compete with when you're getting up and running. Everything that even gets close to something they do or might want to do gets bought out.

I can't imagine anyone thinks such a situation is in the best interest of the user.

When they buy other companies, note:

1) It's a voluntary transaction and is not compulsory

2) They precisely buy because it would be harder to build it from scratch. Which refutes your claim that Google or FB can't be competed against.

edit: formatting

1) Yes, it's voluntary, but the interests of the consumers aren't necessarily taken into account. Only the shareholders of the companies being bought stand to gain from the transactions. 2) Google/Fb gives these companies an offer at a moment when it still makes sense to buy them (i.e. when they can both win from the acquisition). If the company being bought decides to decline, Google or FB or whatever monolith has ways of destroying them: - By buying their competitor instead of them, and heavily investing in them - By just building the feature themselves, and potentially fighting a very expensive legal battle

Are you taking the general community's well being into account when you ask for a raise in your salary? You know, if and when you do ask for a raise you're making the product your company produces that much more expensive, you're not adhering to your own rules.

In any voluntary transaction, both parties gain out of it. People who are not parties to that transaction have no business in it.

> 1) Yes, it's voluntary, but the interests of the consumers aren't necessarily taken into account. Only the shareholders of the companies being bought stand to gain from the transactions

Yes of course, because they are trading their private property. When you buy vegetables from the supermarket, can someone complain that you're not taking into consideration other people's interests, namely there's less food for everyone else. And also that only you and the supermarket stand to gain out of the transaction. This is an reductio ad absurdum of your statement

> 2) Google/Fb gives these companies an offer at a moment when it still makes sense to buy them (i.e. when they can both win from the acquisition). If the company being bought decides to decline, Google or FB or whatever monolith has ways of destroying them: - By buying their competitor instead of them, and heavily investing in them - By just building the feature themselves, and potentially fighting a very expensive legal battle

Okay, I see your logical problem, you want good to be done in one instance, but you IMHO fail to see the consequences if you logically apply that concept to its conclusion.

Again, voluntary transaction. If the startup refuses, it's voluntary. If FB or Google goes and invests elsewhere it's their money, their business. Who are we to tell them what to do with their money. Would you be okay if they told what to do with money you've earned? All things you've mentioned are coercive i.e. they are all based on things people have agreed on in written documents. Concretely, if they (Google/FB) buy a competitor, it's their money, their business. If they build the feature themselves, their money, they don't owe this startup their money, they refused when offered anyway. If they fight a legal battle, it's still legitimate because both parties (Google/FB and startup) have all agreed to work with local laws (US or otherwise).

Please, at least one example of a social networking application where "everybody is" and which makes Facebook fear the loss of it's users.

For example, give us at least one example of a service that would directly cause Facebook to think twice before making it's app constantly harass me to update my page, minimising the videos I am trying to close, and automatically sending me push notifications for someone starting a live video?

> Please, at least one example of a social networking application where "everybody is"

Everybody is not there, even on Facebook, there is no such social network yet.

> and which makes Facebook fear the loss of it's users.

Whatsapp, Instagram and Snapchat. Facebook has paid premium prices for the former two and gave a pretty high offer for snapchat. They wouldn't do that if they're concerned ( of course, neither you nor I can confirm their emotional state, but we can derive useful conclusions from their actions)

> For example, give us at least one example of a service that would directly cause Facebook to think twice before making it's app constantly harass me to update my page, minimising the videos I am trying to close, and automatically sending me push notifications for someone starting a live video?

Have you stopped using facebook? Then why should they care? They will care IMO, but the point is by continuing to use facebook, you've shown that you weigh the benefits of facebook to be more than the costs/annoyances. So, you're happy enough as far as they're concerned, they might try and make you happier but that's left to them :)

Edit: Whoops! I hit submit before completing my last sentence

It's harder to stop using Facebook when there's no proper alternative.

More importantly, the functionality of Facebook can be replicated by anyone with more-then a few years of experience in software.

So you're saying that Facebook does have proper competition? No, they don't. They were lucky enough to be at the exact place at the exact time to build the sturdy population of users. And now most of the users are paying for their luck.

>What Facebook (or for that matter Google) does is not competition.

Why not? Being the first one in and the best at what you do is still competition. Most industries don't get disrupted by a competitor until there is truly some valuable innovation that happened. (ie look at Yahoo and MySpace)

Whenever the government starts to interfere it sounds really good on paper, but it typically is not in the best interest of the user. Existing corporations often use laws to then further eliminate incoming competition.

Cars are not really a valid analogy here because we're talking about services with network effects that impose behavioral norms for all users regardless of location.

To use your driving example it would be like saying that to use a car everyone has to drive on the same side of the road or accept identical pollution control standards. That's obviously not the case. Cars are adapted--sometimes quite substantially--to local jurisdictions.

Korea and Japan actually did this with cars. Enforcing extremely high tariffs on all imported vehicles. It seems to have worked well for their automotive Industries.

The US economy was founded on tariffs. No such thing as a free market in North America.


Tariffs in cars in a big market such as the US encourage foreign car companies to set up locally or at least in a NAFTA member country.


So you get competitive technologies built in your market with local workforce by foreign companies.

My comment is about the US not being for free trade. Your comment is irrelevant.

AFAIK the US also has significant tariffs on certain kinds of imported vehicles, namely pickup trucks.

I think it's a tariff on commercial vehicles in general. Which Ford worked around by shipping over "passenger cars" and then tearing out the extra seats in the US, turning them into vans http://blog.caranddriver.com/feds-watching-fords-run-around-...

Can USA wake up one day and decide to impose a 40% tariff without repercussions? Aren't there rules and international trade agreements backed by enforcement mechanisms?

> Can USA wake up one day and decide to impose a 40% tariff without repercussions? Aren't there rules and international trade agreements backed by enforcement mechanisms?

You could debate how far the US could go with it before there are serious repercussions. However, several of the big auto-making countries go a great distance out of their way to shield their own domestic auto industries from foreign competition at home, including Germany and Japan. The US should behave exactly as they do and for exactly the same reasons.

What has the US gained by allowing foreign auto competitors such equal footing? Japan and Germany are widely regarded as having the two best auto industries overall, it has clearly has worked out just fine for them (insert the replies about correlation/causation). Why is the US held to a very different standard than China, Germany and Japan (3 of the 4 largest economies) when it comes to trade? That should and will end by necessity, whether it's a Trump or a Bernie Sanders that does it. It's a cultural wave that can't be stopped.

The US should use every lever at its disposal to compete, including strategically manipulating the global reserve currency (eg it's crazy that the US isn't running a $2 trillion, ten year, infrastructure QE program; the USD as the global reserve currency is unlikely to last more than a few more decades, we should leverage it while we have it to increase US competitiveness).

You're ignoring the US consumers who get cheaper and higher quality vehicles from abroad because we don't have protectionist politics on vehicles. Why should I pay more for inferior Detroit cars?

Monoculture = bad. Rich companies are pretty good at kicking the ladder. Little bit of anti-trust goes a long way.

Monopolies are bad for consumers. The Chinese government is protecting Chinese markets from global monopolies (and also acting as the world's biggest innovation VC). Other countries have been asleep at the wheel and are only just starting to wake up with uber and airbnb. (Also the fact that fb has been caught targeting Kremlin propaganda to voters in foreign elections makes me wonder if they will get shuttered in a lot of places. And Twitter can only be next.)

There's a difference between protecting from global monopolies, and totally eliminating any competition.

The fact that the Chinese sanctioned companies become monopolies themselves is even more proof that it's about nationalism than protection from monopolies.

> it's about nationalism than protection from monopolies

Well if I was Chinese I guess I'd hope my government was making some effort to protect the national interest at least.

Of course they are developing their own monopolies and have some pretty terrifying social control programs in the works. That can be criticised in its own right and hopefully it will be. But to try and make the case that FB is a benevolent saviour of the Chinese citizenry from their evil government is nonsense and whataboutery. If you must believe in the US as some kind of global beacon of free speech and democracy, then at least don't think that just being the lesser of two evils is a really great way to promote this.

The hard problem is that any proprietary social platform has to have a mass of people using it to be particularly useful, and any social platform that big is collecting data that makes it a huge security risk and economic factor at the national level. The only solutions I can think of are to have social networks under national control or to promote interoperability between smaller networks and partition data collection to an acceptable level for national security purposes.

> The Chinese government is protecting Chinese [control over citizens] markets

> and also acting as the world's biggest innovation VC


> Other countries have been asleep at the wheel

Calm down with the CN propaganda.

It's a general question of national security for any country, and in the broader sense which also includes control of their economies. The Chinese have been very smart about this, other countries should look at this. I don't think that's pushing a pro-Chinese line so much as about other countries needing to learn something about protecting national interest from 'foreign data invaders' (which have been mainly US to date but which I can see starting to include Russia and China)

thank you for espousing the free markets ideology (I concur with you). I don't know why but these days, I feel HN also has become protectionist (where I'd have expected free marketeers).

Perhaps this is out of context, but I wonder if Trump is a symptom of this protectionism or if they're unrelated

There are only two countries which have homegrown companies protected by their governments. OP's comment still holds true about US companies not necessarily being good for everyone.

The alternative of all the data siloed to a single world power, the US, is not better.

I was going to add ".. unless you're American", but I'm not even sure if such a concentration of power would be a net neutral (or good) in the long run, for any citizen, US or elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, we embraced this 'Free Basics' concept (or almost like it). All mobile data providers here provide free access to Facebook.

<rant> I personally blame this as a big part of why our country's government is in its current state. With unrestricted free access to Facebook, it was exceedingly easy to spread memes/fake news about how "bad-ass and cool" Duterte is and how hilariously incompetent the opposition is. And it's still going on today. It is now used as a propaganda machine, up to the point where one particular Facebook page owner spreading memes/fake news now holds an official position in the government, thanks to their 'services'. </rant>

In India we got lucky this time that the TRAI ( Regulatory Authority ) rejected the proposal even though Mr Z personally visited PM Modi to get his support including a town hall in IIT. Facebook even employed questionable tactics to get support for this. Eventually it did not work out.

Now Google, with its Indian origin CEO is trying his hand by providing free wifi at Indian Railway stations.

Everyone now wants a chunk of a growing economy like India to convert its people to "products".

Indian authorities should be smart enough to differentiate between the good & bad things that giants like Facebook & Google can do to the country, its economy and nowadays even its stability.

I'm guessing WeChat would be considered a monopoly in China, if they cared about such things.

Smaller companies do scary things too. Consider Equifax, the zillion adtech companies out there injecting Javascript everywhere, and all the no-name Android vendors that never put out security updates. At least some of the big names invest in improving security and do some policing of the smaller ones.

The Internet's feudal structure comes from specialization due to outsourcing security, often from smaller to larger companies. Cloudflare is largely in the business of providing protection to smaller companies. Or take the whole cloud thing; this makes security much easier than running your own data center.

Even at the individual level, we don't want to run our own spam filters and moderate our own comments. We want a trusted source of security updates. Someone needs to keep the bad guys out so we give others the power to do it for us.

Yes, this is the way to understand it. Internet is feudal. Because law hasn't kept up with the transition to a new source of power (data + information flows) the familiar forms of feudalism are emerging. So how does the Internet transition to constitutional monarchy and democracy?

>So how does the Internet transition to constitutional monarchy and democracy?

What does this mean? How you envision this happening?

No idea. Right now, the digital world exists at the behest and mercy of the physical world. But eventually the digital world becomes more important---political structures there determine the fate of the physical world, rather than the other way around.

Of course, this is a false distinction. The digital and the physical world are actually one and the same, viewed through different lenses. But eventually the network and services and content and algorithms of the digital realm will become central. Perhaps this is how it happens:

Facebook, Google, Amazon are proto-states. They are centers of power which dispense favors upon their "citizens" (users) in exchange for power over the users (data). At present they're primarily constrained by an environment of competition fostered by government. But over time they assume more and more functions of government. You can already "vote" in these corporations (as shareholders).

Suppose the government that currently constrains the corporations weakens, fractures. The U.S. splits up, for example. Then the boundary-crossing multinational corporations become the unified power centers. Now they are constrained only by each other. A great power struggle occurs in which the digital powers strive for dominance. There is a physical element---cutting fiber connections, etc.---but mostly it's about algorithms. Eventually the virtual space is partitioned into states just as the physical world.

In time, the "users" in each virtual state become discontented. They revolt and demand greater say in their governance. They live in virtual realities governed by the virtual states. Thus they have a great incentive to gain power over the governments. Thus democracy arises.

Anyway, this is all really far-out, weird thinking, and maybe it doesn't hold up. But something like this seems roughly plausible.

Free Basics and Internet.org were two of the most disgusting moves i have seen from fb. I wonder if any of Indian workers working at fb questioned zuck about it at one of the his town-hall meetings ( if it is possible to do so).

> Free Basics and Internet.org were two of the most disgusting moves

They're still disgusting moves. India prohibited Internet.org, but Facebook is actively pushing it in many other countries (Nigeria, Indonesia, South Africa, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Guatemala, etc.).

I agree, but i'm Indian and i could relate more to what happened in India.

I don't understand people's objections. Can you clarify?

As someone who was too poor to afford internet for years, I would have adored such a deal. It would have greatly improved my standard of living, and to me I feel like the objections come from people with no understanding of what poverty is like. It really feels like looking a gift horse in the mouth; I feel like the benefits of free internet for the poor far outweigh the self righteousness.

I'd really like to know why it's better for me to have no internet at all than some but not all?

>> I'd really like to know why it's better for me to have no internet at all than some but not all?

Because under the pretext of giving you internet, Facebook is creating shadow profiles about me.

Now I would like to know why it is more important for you to get stuff for free than my privacy?

All you need to do, of course, is get Facebook to promise me that it won't create these shadow profiles about non-users. At that moment, you should (hopefully) have a little bit of an "aha!".

If that free internet were actually provided by the government, and was funded by taxation, "we the people" (however comical that notion is these days), actually have the legislative and ultimately the executive power to stop our government from doing shady things with that internet. What is your recourse if the same thing is decided behind closed doors inside a corporation? I will answer that question for you based on how these things usually turn out: whatever the corporation eventually agrees to will turn out to be better for them, because it will be worse for their competitors. Think: audit of all data collected, having onerous laws around financial reporting, having to agree with a million different compliance issues etc. At the end of it all, someone will look back on it and wring their hands: "If only the people had been a little wiser and stopped the giant corporation from having their way, things could have been so much better".

Think, for a moment, about the farcical fines these megaliths are facing. If you were an executive at any of these companies, would you actually lose sleep over them? If the fines are not acting as a deterrent, why even bother with the fine? Again, where is your recourse?

I am all for public shaming of FB employees, because if they were to stop counting their bank balance and just look themselves in the mirror for a little bit, they know they have completely earned this shaming.

Free Basics puts no obligation on its users to visit or use Facebook at all.

They can browse Accuweather, BBC News, Bing, Wikipedia and other localised websites all day long if they please. For free.

It seems that facebook saved information also about people without a facebook account each time they visit a web displaying a sort of 'like' buttons so even if you just browse those webs you may be watched and 'classified' by facebook (without agreing with any terms of contract document with facebook).

I think you do agree to a contract when you use free basics

We are talking about different things here.

For example, lets suppose that you visit your favourite digital newspaper. After reading an article or a howto you see a "like this article?/was this howto useful?/Send us your feedback" button. It seems (I can't confirm it so I could be wrong, just hear it on the TV news yesterday), that facebook was saving silently all this info about preferences from lots of people that aren't neither facebook users nor visiting facebook forums and webs

If we thing about it, wouldn't be much different than to put a creepy guy near the door of a supermarket recording all that you buy to sell all this info later.

Well, _creep_ _shmeep_ (you're just using an ad hominem) you agreed to it when you signed up to free basics. All activities that FB does is according to their ToS and their privacy policies. If you agreed to that, then they are doing it legitimately.

>> Free Basics puts no obligation on its users to visit or use Facebook at all.

Here is a list of possible ways Facebook can triangulate information about people who are not active on Facebook even without controlling access to the internet:

1. User telemetry based on your browser when you visit any page which has a Like button

2. If you have ever used WhatsApp and deleted it, seeing who has your phone number on their contacts list

3. If you have ever used WhatsApp and deleted it, seeing who has your phone number on their WhatsApp app

4. Being tagged in a photo (that your friend captured) based on a Facebook account which you don't even actively use

5. Seeing where they tagged you if that info is easy to infer from the image's metadata

6. Seeing where they tagged you based on the check in location

7. Seeing where they tagged you, based on the comment they might leave on the photo

8. Seeing who has your email address on their contacts list and associated a name to it

9. Inferring your name from someone's contacts and matching it to the phone number so that

10. They can check if a second person has the same phone number or same email address under the same name or a small variant.

11. Learning about life events which concern you based on other people's WhatsApp conversations about you since they usually mention you by name

12. Text mining of WhatsApp conversations for a list of names which they don't yet have in their database and possibly inferring the relationship type

Now they basically have a "shadow profile" of a (person's name + phone number) even if that person has never gone near Facebook their entire lives. If there are additional details about you in someone else's contacts, imagine how much easier you just made it for Facebook.

12. If you agree that the shadow profile is fairly easy to create once the apps controlled by FB (FB, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram) reach a sufficient critical mass, you probably understand that they will collect every piece of information they can and associate it with the right shadow profile.

My guess is, I don't cover a fraction of the techniques they use already (simply because at a certain scale, I bet they identified even bigger patterns that we cannot even see), and the list is already too uncomfortable for someone who doesn't want to have anything to do with Facebook. As a programmer, you probably know that most of these are trivial to implement. Your problem will be "too much noise", definitely not "too little signal". No worries. An eager horde of people are everyday helping Facebook to cut down the noise and increase the signal to noise ratio of their shadow profiles.

Now, imagine what happens when Facebook becomes the primary means to access the internet for an entire region.

Because browsing facebook selected sensored information is what poor people would like to do?

I also grew with no internet for entirety of my childhood, but i never wished for free internet that could let me browse some social networking site.

Wouldn't this then mean, to each his own. Why should one person's preferences be imposed on others?

Where is the personal preference when facebook is selecting what you should be looking at?

A better alternative will be for the government to provide free internet to the poor (like they do with food) than companies creating walled spaces.

Wow! This would be so bad:

1) Govt will have to raise more taxes (this is a curb on freedom). Why should someone else pay for your services?

2) Bigger Govt will have political motives which will murk up the services it provides. Said another way, FB loses business if consumers don't like it, but a govt goes on because it's funded by tax dollars not customer revenue

Or, you know if facebook really cared, they should have provided 1gb for free or something like that.

I don't understand this line of reasoning usually expected of corporations. Why do they have to part with their profits which they have legitimately earned? They can but should not be required or expected to.

Why would you not fund another person's internet from your salary? Are profits that much different from salaries?

Sure, so don't expect people to get pissed when you call the service you are going to provide "Internet" or "Basics". That is not Internet. And basics without having access to Google. Yeah sure.

It's not free Internet.

    > I don't understand people's objections
This will be my least popular comment for a while, but having read many many comments about it, it seems to be a combination of two pieces:

* Massive and lingering anti-colonial sentiment

* Disregard for those lower down on the social totem pole

Dressed up in fancy sounding intellectual privacy concerns.

It makes me weirdly happy as an American to see it happen. What happens when instead of massive, boring, soulless, mediocre corporations like Facebook serving 2 billion sharecroppers, we've got multiple or even dozens of smaller networks serving regions and niches? That has the potential for innovation we can't begin to understand. Facebook is akin to McDonald's not only spreading internationally but also replacing all other restaurants once it gets in a country. Who likes Big Macs that much?

It's why we should criticize the actions of any power (whether the Us, China, the EU, Russia) to control citizens and eliminate smaller cultures. Maybe melodramatic but it's exciting. The growth of Chinese networks is interesting, wonder how they would develop under a democratic government? Further innovation or do they only exist because of that environment as you suggest?

Don't worry, Tencent is just as much souless and bigcorp than facebook. I would say even more comparing what my friends have said about working at tencent vs facebook.

what do your friend say about Tencent vs Facebook?

Tencent is a pretty bad place to work at, how they constantly discarded their work projects, have typical chinese work hours where people sleep under their desk despite being huge co and said other friends who worked there had a bad time. They did like their immediate co-workers although.

While friends and coworkers who work(ed) at facebook have had a much better time, with far more perks, interesting projects work not thrown away and a much better work life balance.

I don't get this excitement we have to control other people's lives. We should not interfere with voluntary transactions. Free markets serve niches not Govts

What happens when ... we've got multiple or even dozens of smaller networks serving regions and niches?

I think there are already more than two dozen smaller niche social networks.

What we need is p2p social networks. Huge potential in the tech and it 'just' needs polishing. Salmon protocol for comment threads for example is way more powerful than what we use today (it publishes comments across subscriber networks so you could have a conversation being pieced together across separate social networks). Maybe if some big users with a lot of early adopters like reddit and HN got behind that as a movement and started adopting the tech we would see some traction.

>Facebook is akin to McDonald's not only spreading internationally but also replacing all other restaurants once it gets in a country.

Sources for McDonlads replacing all other restaurants. Maybe you haven't traveled as much but for me I always check out local McDonalds, hardly actually eating there. One of the reason they have been successful is adopting local tastes. Costa Rica has Gallo Pinto in addition to fries as options. Serbia has this crazy Crispy meat thing.

With McDonalds I know what the product is and I pay for it. With Facebook it's a little less clear what they are doing. One certainty with FB, we are the product.

With FB they are a little nefarious, especially the Free Basics thing. Google is doing similar things with Google Fiber and the defunct ballon idea.

I concur with your McD thinking. I think you've got FB and Google wrong. I'm not saying they're saints, but in their self interest, they serve their customers. So they've their customers' interests in mind

If people cared about privacy that much, they should use some other network. People weigh the trade-offs of benefits vs costs and still choose to use FB and Google.

You misunderstood OP's use of the word "akin."

Ignorance at it's finest. Unlike the US the Indian telecom sector has cut throat competition, which is why data and call rates are at global lows. Even so they don't have the resources to connect all of India. The math doesn't add up. Facebook Basics would have provided said resources.

A robotic bunch of Indians influenced by the Net Neutrality hoopla developed and targeted at Monopoly Telecom in the US blindly applied these arguments to the Indian context.

The result - rural India is and will remain unconnected. Telcos have no great new ideas on how to connect rural india (and therefore no great avenues to grow) so they are starting to merge. Soon we will have 1-2 giant Telcos monopolies. The clueless herd driven by social media reinforcement and validation strikes again.

So you are simultaneously saying that the cut throat competition of the telco sector is keeping the data and call rates at global lows (a good thing), and saying that we need not have the same competition when the infrastructure for rural India is built out? If competition acts the way it normally does, someone is certainly going to figure out how to connect rural India in an economically viable way and profit immensely.

Or the mathematics won't pan out, and the company dies. And the government will probably step in to fill the breach. And it will probably do an awful job (remember the mathematics never panned out?)

Both of these are good outcomes. Compare this to handing over the control of such vital infrastructure to a megacorp which has a consistent track record of violating the trust of everyone - the users (random privacy rule changes), the advertisers (fake video views), those they acquire (e.g. the comedy show called WhatsApp ads), the jurisdictions they operate in (arbitrary censorship of content to make sure they kowtow to the public flavor du jour) and last but not least the legal system (claiming that they cannot/will not infer a WhatsApp user profile based on FB user profile knowing the pitifully tiny effect of the punitive damages).

With such a track record, it is a surprise that they even have the temerity to still approach governments around the world to propose FreeBasics.

See the point is you don't have the right to impose your preferences on somebody else(here, rural Indians). Concretely, a rural Indian might be okay with privacy violations as long as they believe this benefit outweighs that. They if given a chance might enter into voluntary transaction with FreeBasics, you should not get to stop voluntary interactions.

Why do you get a say on what their preferences are?

Well said. To be honest, I was one of those robots (influence by social media) who posted and pushed net neutrality a lot on social media. Now my stance is more free market oriented (libertarian).

I think the socialist vs democracy revolution which happened last century is happening with libertarian vs democratic ideas now. You will not see it until it hits it's peak but it's well underway.

So in other words rural India was saved from becoming the robot slaves of social media activists by those very same activists?

Do you remember the people pasting a paragraph saying things like "I do not consent to be tracked and my informations to be sold"? It was met with snark by a lot but I really wonder if it would not be legally valid in several countries.

Maybe if you didn't already agree to the EULA. While it's true that some EULAs are of dubious legality, I doubt a court would say that the facebook EULA is totally invalid, but a random post on facebook is legally binding.

The EULA says "Accept these conditions and if you fail to meet them, we termninate the service". The post says "I refuse these specific conditions (that were probably invalid to begin with) and if you disagree, just terminate my account."

Yeah whatever you say on your post is not considered a legal communication. The statements you post on your wall are akin to randomly shouting out statements on the street. Other parties are not expected to listening to that and taking that seriously (FB included).

It's like leaving an email in your drafts folder expecting google to read it. Or typing something into Google Search box and expecting that to be legal communication.

More info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDHDM7PfyYs

The above video makes good points even though it's been posted by college humor (not particularly meant to get your legal advice from)

More context for Jio, they offered free cell phone coverage for anyone in India for a few months (LTE, great coverage everywhere, very fast) and now are offering it very cheap.

I'll leave it to you to figure out how/why. :)

What's your point? Is it that they're good, bad? What is that you're claiming. You might think it's obvious, but unfortunately, your claims are not obvious from your post

In other words there should be crystal clear regulations that says what Monopolies(and even normal companies) can and cannot do. The problem is having those regulations in most countries can become a bureaucratic nightmare.

1) There is no incentive for the Govt to get this right.

2) Besides, govt bureaucrats don't have the ability now (IMHO) to think rationally and get to the best decision

3) Govt has no business to get in the way of voluntary transactions between two adults

Those are the kind of regulations that should help create a consensus around the utility of the european union.

Giant corporation, spending tons of marketing money to make everyone think they're trying to help the world, while behaving like scammers with regards to personal data, and like white collar criminals with regard to tax should be prosecuted to death.

> The EU considers the death penalty as a cruel, inhuman and irreversible punishment which fails to act as a deterrent to criminal behaviour.


edit: Hmm, now I'm not sure whether you meant a companies metaphorical death? ..I'll leave it here anyhow. :)

Revocation of corporate charter is the equivalent of the death penalty for a corporation.

In contrast to humans, who have the right to live, companies have the privilege to exist.

In contrast to humans, who have the right to live, companies have the privilege to exist.

I agree with your sentiment, but I consider being alive the greatest privilege.

privilege implies that someone has the right to take it away

Wouldn't that inhibit someone's else's rights? Companies are made of people after all, no?

But they have certain "privileges" granted by society (i.e. by consensus of the majority of he population). This only works for as long as the society deems companies beneficial to the wellbeing of the people; once that ceases to be true, the rights or privileges of the company/-ies should be modified or revoked.

This is where I have a problem. "This only works for as long as the society deems companies beneficial to the wellbeing of the people" said another way is collective good trumps (no pun) individual liberties, this is just communism worded differently. If you were to logically implement or even deduce what this implies is communism and that is bad as seen by both empirically and logical (deontological) evidence/proofs.

What has the majority done to build a company that they can take it away? If you say they've made transactions or buy buying the stuff the company makes, then I'd say they got their money's worth and that's it. There was no surplus. Additional rights were not part of that deal. So that can't be an objection.

Let's unpack this. As an example, I'm working at this company. I do no harm to others, neither does the company, but the society has the right to take this away because majority says so (for whatever reason)? So if you can take away somebody's job and their property, the company, because a majority says so, I don't see how that's ethical.

Couldn't you say the same thing about tax in a (what we usually describe as) capitalist system?

In any case, companies grant privileges as well as obligations - e.g. limited liability, and they can outlive any of their employees. It's a trade-off; if you don't like it, you van always do business as a person, then noone can take that away - but you also don't get these privileges.

I'm not sure how this actually works in UK law, or any other EU country, or whether it's even possible. Companies can be dissolved, because they have ceased to function: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/company-strike-of... (see the amazing list of names in 10.3, including "The Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer")

What usually happens to a sufficiently badly behaving company is that the directors can be struck off: https://www.gov.uk/company-director-disqualification

There is also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Manslaughter_and_Cor... , which is used when there is gross negligence relating to safety which gets someone killed.

(I think that may have been influenced by the long campaign after https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchioness_disaster , but I'm not sure)

Doesn't happen often (at all?) and even if it did, what stops the company's leadership from starting a new, identical company with a identical board, employee list, etc. the next second?

It doesn't really happen. What does happen is companies going out of business from being unable to pay fines and/or liabilities to harmed parties.

There are different rules in each country around eligibility to serve in certain company functions, but those will usually only come into play after an individual's conviction for a crime committed in a business context. There are one and a half I've heard of actually happening in the real world: (1) (frequently) you'll be barred from serving as CEO or starting a corporation after a conviction for criminal bankruptcy, and (2) board-level positions for banks have rather strict requirements that would preclude most people with recent convictions for serious crimes.

I've only heard of one case of (2) being relevant, which was the possibility of Deutsche Bank's CEO having to resign after a plea deal for one of their many scandals.

Having to raise all that capital over again, or being temporarily or permanently barred from the industry, a common sanction for bad actors in the securities world.


Sorry, I don't know how "losing your corporate charter" works. Who goes to jail?

Surely "prosecuted to death" was a figure of speech??

I don't think he meant it literally.

s/death/charter revocation/

I don't have anything against regulations and fines to keep monopolistic companies in check, but that being said, as an European, I can't help but feel a little appalled that there's so much focus on this and so little on actually creating European Googles and Facebooks.

The EU and many of its members have plenty of programs encouraging entrepreneurship. Stuff like http://startupeuropeclub.eu/

Whether they're actually able to lead to the creation of European Googles and Facebooks is a different question.

Those programs are mostly cargo culting and fail to address the essential aspects of an entrepreneurial environment. It's a way to seem like they're doing something rather than making the hard changes that would piss off some powerful special interests and rentiers.

One thing I hear about the startup environment in Europe is that investors are more conservative and risk-averse compared to those in the US. Would you elaborate on the "essential aspects of an entrepreneurial environment", and the hard changes that would need to be made to improve the situation?

Also curious to hear more about these powerful special interests and "rentiers" - any specific examples in mind?

Try becoming a freelancer opening a company in Spain. Orders of magnitude harder than in the US, so for many recent grads is not a viable option at all.

Different EU countries have different contexts. In Sweden it is very easy.

I think the point is not how easy is to start a company, but how easy is to get funds that you can spend without fear of failing.

> Europe is that investors are more conservative and risk-averse compared to those in the US.

I would think that is because the payouts are much lower. And with lower payouts, options are worth less to attract talent at below market (salary) rates.

China has demonstrated one way to do this

You can't really snap fingers and make those kind of company appear out of nowhere.

Those companies exist because of american entrepreneurship culture, and how corporate laws work in the US. US companies have a lot of freedom to throw money right and left to do things because IT moves fast, and that is just not possible in europe at all.

Also those companies are flagships, but they also are criticized because they are big brother type agents. They centralize data from users of the entire world, and let's be honest, it gives an information advantage for american interests (meaning geopolitics, economics, business).

Those companies are not just products, they also are a big advantage for three letters agencies and business intelligence as well. I'm sure a similar european google or facebook would either be bought by US company or see its employees offered jobs at facebook/google.

Europe is not interested in having such companies, because europe doesn't have investors to throw money like megalomaniacs at anything that pops up. Europe is more traditional.

So yeah, the US is the center of the world, there are geopolitical reasons for it, and they are logical reasons why it is also the case for flagship IT companies.

The US (and China) have the advantage of a large homogenous market. That's probably one of the main reason why Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and others originated in the US.

Mastodon[1] is European :)

[1]: https://joinmastodon.org

Those are two separate issues. The rules apply to everybody equally, and enforcing them is independent of promoting innovation and economic growth.

If Google and Facebook aren't good, I'm not sure that the European version would be good..

good point, something which is not noted when people talk about such things :)

As an investor in my first startup once put it: You want to build a company in the US because you have access to a market of 300,000,000 people right from the beginning. In Europe markets are much smaller. Munchen and Berlin are completely different markets. Germany and Spain? Fuggetaboutit.

Yes you can't address that big of a market immediately, but if you're into the whole rapid expansion VC thing, having a big market helps a lot more than having a thousand tiny markets does.

Where I'm from, Slovenia, basically nobody builds startups for the local market anymore. You go straight for global and that shit's hard. Would be nice to have a bigger local market that you can experiment with.

> Munchen and Berlin are completely different markets

In what respect? Berlin and Munich are 363 miles apart, share standard German, a currency, a time zone, a prime minister, some culture, legal system...

Are you referring to class/wealth?

They are different cultures.

Munich/Bayern - old school, conservative, traditional.

Berlin - multicultural, hipster.

Kind of like SF vs. Dallas.

That said, they are both very German and it's a little bit of a stretch to say they are different markets.

But Germany and Spain are night and day different and building for EU-wide is very hard.

Not only are there different markets, but Europeans have strong cultures, which include behaviours - they don't jump a 'the new thing' because it's cool.

America is a land of fads and trends, people like new activities, new dynamics - also, people are always in search of identity, and 'brand power' is powerful in the US across the board, just as some American brands have considerable cultural power in China.

There are basically no places in Europe with a critical mass of early adopters for anything in tech, so it's tough. Some spots, yes, and numbers overall, yes. But no hot-zones.

>kind of like SF vs. Dallas

Which would make the US no more homogenous than Germany at least.

> There are basically no places in Europe with a critical mass of early adopters for anything in tech

Finland pretty much invented the mobile business (and the US still lags Europe), and European startup culture is very strong in London, the Nordics, and Berlin, (with Paris and Amsterdam also starting to make a play). Where do you think Skype, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Angry Birds come from?

Finland is smaller than Los Angeles.

Neither it, nor even Germany/UK/France have a critical mass of tech people or early adopters.

There isn't very strong 'startup culture' anywhere in Europe, unfortnately.

You listed basically all of the notable startups to come out of Europe in one sentence, which is not good.

I've lived all over Europe as well as the US, I'm aware of the differences.

There just isn't a strong cluster of tech-types, nor strong movements of early adopters for most things in Europe.

I will give you Skype though - Skype was a huge hit in Europe in 2004, especially because calling/long-distance rates were so crazy expensive - that's actually a pretty good example of a Euro-based startup hitting the local market well - i.e. 'in their pocket books' where it matters, in a way that kind of transcends national boundaries.

A startup that conquers fast/easy/cheap currency exchange, I think will likely do well in Europe as well.

But it's hard to build early adopters there, unless you hit it right.

> Finland is smaller than Los Angeles.

Yes Finland is smaller than Los Angeles and yet pretty much invented mobile - that would seem to invalidate your point about scale. Scale removes agility and ability to innovate, it's the sole competitive edge of startups. It's also why the US mobile market still lags blocs made up of smaller markets like Asia and Europe.

> There isn't very strong 'startup culture' anywhere in Europe, unfortnately.

The Nordics would disagree and has a track record to back that up.

> You listed basically all of the notable startups to come out of Europe in one sentence, which is not good.

Hardly, I just pulled a small handful out of thin air. Here's a bunch more - https://medium.com/startup-grind/the-100-startups-which-rais..., http://www.wired.co.uk/article/europes-100-hottest-startups-...

> There just isn't a strong cluster of tech-types, nor strong movements of early adopters for most things in Europe.

I've visited a lot of the US via tech conferences (largely in college towns and hi-tech hubs). The US has no claim whatsoever here. I'd say it was possibly marginally behind Europe and way behind Asia, where I visit frequently for business. I'm including LA, SF, NY in this assessment which are starting to look like provincial towns compared to the likes of Shanghai or London. The US is notably more advanced at marketing, which is what you are seeing here; if the US had anything to compare to Shenzhen for example we would be hearing nothing except stories about US leading the world in cutting edge HW innovation from hacker-makers. I was going to add that the US was very much ahead in tech financing (and it is compared to Europe, which makes US tech itself look comparatively weak if anything) - but I think the Chinese gov is considerably outspending SV now.

> A startup that conquers fast/easy/cheap currency exchange, I think will likely do well in Europe as well.

^ This is what Revolut is doing right now in europe

> There are basically no places in Europe with a critical mass of early adopters for anything in tech

What the? People get in line to buy iPhones here too, Europeans are not all smart. Europe is not just the CCC and The Fabulous Destiny of Amèlie, people are addicted to Facebook about the same as Americans.

Those are not early adopters.

Don't fall into trap of seeing this as being motivated by economic nationalism.

That's a claim frequently made in regards to EU antitrust actions, and it is easily disproven by the data that shows US companies being underrepresented in terms of levied fines compared to their revenues in the EU.

Any European competitor would be subject to the same sort of fine if they behaved similarly.

I'm not really interested in a European version of those companies.

How would that be any better?

It would -- at least in theory -- be easier for the European peoples to regulate them so they act in their interests.

Well, I'm sure you've heard of company restructuring. A company HQ can be moved anywhere, and a company restructured for legal freedom and tax efficiency. So, in all likelihood the EU Googles and FB will be structured similarly (maybe to evade EU laws if it were to become restrictive).

And you're back on square one. Instead I suggest vote with your dollar, choose a different service that better suits your needs than making more govt regulations (and infringing on everyone's rights)

What I had in mind was a totally separate company, based in Europe, not a European branch of Facebook/Google etc.

Kinda like the Chinese are doing by having Chinese clones of all the big UIS technology companies.

Perhaps it is an action boosting EU-based companies? Otherwise they are at a disadvantage in competition, because US-based Googles and Facebooks game the e.g. the tax system in a way that EU-based companies cannot.

Tax avoidance isn't helping large US based tech companies aquire more users or gain more control of the Internet. It only impacts investors and executives. So that's not the reason why EU based competitors have mostly failed to reach dominant positions.

"Tax avoidance isn't helping large US based tech companies aquire more users or gain more control of the Internet"

No, it really does help large entities wield their power even more.

The billions of dollars that the big cos have stockpiled ensures they can suck up the talent, attack new markets and keep competitors at bay.

It's not the biggest thing, but it's a thing.

Talent is bought with pre-tax money. Same with investments.

And Facebook was barely making any money while it was becoming the dominant social network.

No it doesn't really help. The money is mostly stockpiled offshore specifically to avoid taxation. They aren't using it to hire more employees or launch new products. The only thing it might help with is to prevent hostile acquisitions.

Yes, it does help.

A) They have massive operations internationally and hire a lot.

B) Did you witness Microsofts dismantling of Nokia? That was a takedown of an entire ecosystem and huge gift to Apple and Google/Android as well. Paid for by cheap taxes overseas.

Nokia never had a real ecosystem. That's exactly why they failed.

Nokia had a massive eco-system of suppliers, tech providers, distributors, service providers.

For every one person working at Nokia, there was another, in a company, somewhere else selling to them, buying from the, distributing for them.

The same thing happened at BlackBerry.

I'm not talking about 'apps' - I'm talking about a 'business' eco-system and value chain.

I don't think it's a technological problem. There are surely talents in Europe that are capable of creating wondrous things (let alone social networks), see Skype for example (before Microsoft has ruined it). I think it's cultural -- USA is the center of western culture (like it or not) and many fashions/trends are born there that are later followed in other countries -- Hollywood, music (MTV in 80-90s), TV series, Facebook, Apple etc.

> so little on actually creating European Googles and Facebooks

How though?

Also "why though?"

I on the other hand enjoy having high taxes (i.e. good services) and lower wages while the US creates all the products I need and it is them who are on the brink of a civil war over inequality.

Civil war in US would be catastrophic for pretty much everyone in EU. Just saying.

Our economies are very dependent. That alone would be catastrophic. It would make Russia, China etc more confident in taking more territories and putting more demands on EU. Handle refugees from there would put a lot of strain on us too. If not-nice-people would won, and civil wars tend to be won by wannabe dictators, we would be even in bigger trouble.

If you think the US is on the brink of civil war you've been spending too much time reading fnords on the internet.

Dunno... I had childhood friends calling for the white supremacists to please come march in Oakland. Imagine the carnage, repercussions and tensions that would come from that.

I don't know what you think the precursors to a civil war looks like, but between ignored Occupy protesters' issues, the Tea Party being co-opted into an anti-abortion group with their original complaints being ignored, and the BLM movement that grew out of Ferguson feeling ignored by those in power, the U.S.A. isn't exactly super stable at the moment. There is a huge group of people who feel (rightly or otherwise) that they have genuine grievances and are willing to get arrested for it.

What spark would be required to light this flame?

This image is really the best metaphor for our current political climate: https://imgur.com/TxJ7iEi

Mass media just magnifies the angry 1%, creating mountains out of molehills.

eg the Bay Area has maybe 100 BLM/Antifa instigators total. Every police incident involves that same small group of people, but the media hypes up the number of incidents.

Some group postures to look significant, the media obliges to get ad revenue, a handful of people get caught up in the hysteria, and everyone else... yawns. A homeless man delaying BART by 20 minutes causes more wide-spread civil unrest.

People are upset, yes, and America desperately needs a functional Congress... but we're not even close to

> There is a huge group of people who feel (rightly or otherwise) that they have genuine grievances and are willing to get arrested for it

> eg the Bay Area has maybe 100 BLM/Antifa instigators total.

Yes, but how many who agree with them, but have day jobs they need to go to? I can assure you that my childhood friend was not joining the BLM protests, but he was still calling for Nazis to try to march in Oakland.

I know. My point is that is largely meaningless

* "Racists march in racist territory to intimidate people elsewhere" * "People elsewhere goad the weak cowardly racists"

Uh, obviously? I'd be surprised if that didn't happen.

Racism is not popular. Oakland isn't alone, I have heard the same sentiment from New Yorkers, Seattleites, Houston; urban areas do not tolerate that kind of anti-American discrimination.

I don't know what you think the precursors to a civil war looks like, but...

Relevant blog: https://predictiveheuristics.com/

It was a metaphor.

Not the first time Spain has taken on a tech giant, but it didn't go so great with Google: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/07/new-study-shows-...

"A study commissioned by Spanish publishers has found that a new intellectual property law passed in Spain last year, which charges news aggregators like Google for showing snippets and linking to news stories, has done substantial damage to the Spanish news industry."

Spaniard here.

Google tax was just a ploy from our crony capitalist government to divert money towards publishers aligned with them (i.e. most major news outlets). Actually, the publishers are the ones who promoted it (lobbying for it long before it was even a law proposal) and the government just followed its masters (the two large media groups who own mostly everything).


> In response, Google announced that they would be shutting down the Spanish version of their Google News service.


> The AEDE reacted by lobbying the Spanish government to force Google to keep it running.

It would be funny if it wasn't so worrying.


Fortunately this just looks like public workers from AEPD (Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Spanish Agency of Data Protection) doing their jobs.

AEPD is one of the few public organizations I'm glad we have.

How is your government capitalist? You are drowned in bureaucracy, taxes and debt not capitalism.

I am not taking this story as an example. Most of southern Europe countries are far from being capitalist.

He said "crony capitalist", which is quite a different thing to capitalist.

I personally prefer the word "corporatist" for this phenomenon to avoid this ambiguity. Crony-captalist has an anti-capitalist tinge, which I don't favor, but is one reason why I think is has been adopted broadly.

The mere fact that <X> was damaged because <Y> happened doesn't necessarily mean Y was a bad thing. We live in a dynamic world, and society reshapes itself constantly.

Right -- legitimate competition and recognized Fair Use [1] could do the same the the same thing, and (at least in the US) simply reading off newspaper headlines isn't considered a copyright violation.

The question is whether they did something illegal that hurt their industry.

[1] I know, different legal system but whatever their equivalent is

One valid point I've seen someone say about this in a tweet (I'm paraphrasing it):

By the time you read this comment, Facebook (presumably) already made enough profit to pay this fine.

A 1.2M euro (non) fine? I hope it's a "first offense" discount.

Actually it's a steep fine, it's just for 3 users /instances. Now I have to wonder why didn't they uncover more?

Life is better without Facebook.

I'm considering ordering a few hundred stickers with this phrase on them.

I've just shut mine down again and it's been off my phone for months. Things are much better without it.

Well 1.2 million euros fine is nothing to Facebook. That won't stop them from anything

That's just a warning shot. Next time they get caught for the same thing it won't end so well, so it's just like saying: "stop what you are doing or there will be consequences, here's some little fine so you take us seriously".

ok, makes sense. I didn't realize it was for 3 users only. I still wonder how impressed they really are...

Apparently that was for only 3 users.

It does however set a precedent, and if someone could take further evidence of this to court, on a much larger scale, those fines would stack up very quickly (as they ought to).

Do you really think FB owes each of its users 400k Euros for its crimes?

If fine <= of profit from illegal activities, it just encourages to act, because in the worst case scenario you still won't lose anything. I'd say 400k Eur is just about right in this case.

I think this is a good step.

EU countries should start fining and taxing these US tech companies heavily to force them out of business in the EU and leave room for local EU competitors. The EU should try to be more like China.

I'm sorry but that's bullshit. Almost by definition, whatever replacements would be created would be inferior to the banned originals.

If you start using fines and taxes as instruments of protectionism, you've also become a country no longer ruled by laws, but by the arbitrary whims of whoever is in power.

I already spend too much time online defending (for example) the EU's antitrust policy against accusations of nationalism. If that sort of thing really did happen, it would be the start of a trade war. And nobody is interested in a trade war, except those whose thinking is impaired by some rather anachronistic xenophobia.

Specifically for Facebook: about 40% of my friends are outside the EU. I wouldn't create an account on any social network that they are not on.

Inferior initially but they may become superior in the long run at least in some specific aspects.

Isn't it up to the EU to enforce its laws, rather than member countries?

No, the EU sets the laws, member countries implement and enforce them. If they don't, you can appeal further up the EU. See here https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-making-process/overview-la...

good way for countries to make some extra cash sueing these giants... but what does the user actually get from it? Nothing ever changes...

I can't help but read this headline in light of the Equifax ("Equihax") story also on the front page today. "Tracking without consent" seems an odd reason for a government to crack down on a business. Perhaps Google and Facebook, in Europe, aren't allowed to "track without consent" – but other companies can and do. Not just Amazon, as a direct comparison, but apparently credit bureaus and the government themselves are allowed to track me without my consent.

I generally agree that "tracking without consent" is invasive, but if a government is going to use it as a way to extort tech companies for fines I would appreciate a little more consistency in who is being called out.

Details are obviously different in each country but around here in Germany credit bureaus can't track you without consent. It's pretty hard to avoid giving that if you want to interact with banks and other companies but it definitely is possible if you are careful about what you do. Of course if you decide not to grant that consent many companies will not do business with you. Not sure what your point about Amazon is, of course the same rule applies to them as to anyone else.

The government itself has very strict rules about what data can be collected and accessed. Unfortunately those rules are sometimes violated (especially in the intelligence space).

At work we have some private data we need to perform our tasks of tens of millions of people. However, that data is regularly pruned and purged on a defined schedule so that we never have more than we strictly need. That's in stark contrast to what e.g. Facebook does which apparently holds onto every bit of data they have ever collected about anyone in case it might be profitable to use at some point.

In Spain "credit bureaus" can't track you if you don't sign up for it. But on the other side, banks and other establishments can share a list of "unpaid debtors", which disappearing from is kinda difficult.

> 1.2 million euro fine

This is merely a cost of doing business. If Spain was serious, a EUR 1.2 billion fine would have more effect.

Facebook could just ask its users "Do you agree to be tracked, even without your consent?" and they 'd still say yes. If it mattered, people would have switched to one of the open source alternatives. This fine serves more as governmental virtue signaling than anything else.

Sort of... but I don't think most users (those who are not technically-savvy) know the extent to which they are being tracked. The web has existed in the mainstream for how long now, and some of the people I know are just catching on to the concept of IP logging...

Most web users don't know how deep the rabbit-hole goes, so to speak. Heck, even the Battery API [0] could be used to track users. A better question for Facebook to ask would be, "Do you agree to be tracked, even without your consent; we track your phone's battery, we track every web-page you visit via the Like button, we track ...".

[0] http://wccftech.com/firefox-cuts-battery-api-privacy-concern...

It's illegal in EU to get a broad consent (aka "we will track you anytime, collect any data we like and do with it as we please"). EULA must state exactly what data is collected and how it will be used, also it must be retractable. You can joke as much as you like about "cookie law", but other privacy laws in EU quite formidable (probably the best in current world anyway). And they will be even stricter soon, as GDPR hits in.

and soon europeans will seek VPNs to access a banned facebook? I mean i fail to see how the cookie law has affected the broader internet in a positive way.

Cookie law is pretty much a joke, as the parent comment stated. But there are some serious and useful regulations in the EU that aren't a joke.

And if FB is banned from Europe (which I highly doubt), the average user won't be able to put a VPN so they'll simply switch to a clone most probably. imho FB is only popular because of the vast userbase and content, not because it is a great platform. We've seen clones appear, get pretty popular and die because they can't sustain a large userbase.

You don't have to be a Facebook user for Facebook to track you. They create "shadow profiles" for non-users.

Is Google Next?

Multi-national advertising platform is tracking people without consent... shocking.

Make no mistake: this is a form of taxation. Our (i'm spanish) minister of economy has been very imaginative in the last 4 years to find new sources of revenue.

Please don't spread these conspiracy theories.

As just one of many arguments against: Such decisions are subject to judicial reviews (i. e. Facebook can sue). Spanish judges are just as independent from the executive as they are in most countries, once they are appointed. What motivation would these judges have to undermine the rule of law (something they studied and have worked in their whole life), when they can't be pressured, nor are they recipients of any part of such fines?

It gets even harder to think of a possible motivation when you realise that any court rulings could be appealed in European courts, completely out of the sphere of influence of the Spanish government.

You probably know that Facebook is not going to the judges. They would pay the peanuts just to forget the issue.

The EU countries are playing this game since the crisis started in 2008. Spanish politicians just want their share. All of the Ireland-Google issue was exactly the same but bigger: even if they abide the law, politicians tweak a new one just to milk big companies. They just take the money from where it is.

I don't know about conspiracies you talk. This is all happening in day light and applauded by the people.

I didn't know I would defend Rajoy's government, but this comes from an EU directive so it is hardly a form of taxation

Hardly. It is an insignificant amount in terms of Spain's tax revenue.

Maybe they are probing the courts and setting up the price with 3 persons, with an intent to start pumping money if the case is successful. There are near 20 million Fb users in spain thus the math says there is 400k€ * 20M users = 8 000 000 000 000€ to be earned in their minds.

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