A court in Brussels hit Facebook with a fine of a hundred million dollars for collecting data on Belgians without their consent. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Peter Mougey discuss this issue.


Mike Papantonio: A court in Brussels has hit Facebook. I love this story. They’ve hit Facebook with a fine of a hundred, uh, more than a hundred million dollars for collecting data on Belgians without their consent. This is a huge step forward for privacy rights. But the big question is whether or not the U.S. will follow suit. Now think about it. The only place in the world so far that Facebook gets hammered is in Brussels when they say, “Look, you owe us up to a 124 million dollars in fines.” They go up and say, “Every day that you prevent us from knowing about the personal data that you’re collecting on our citizens, you’re gonna get hit with $311,000 a day for a fine. Now, what is your take? This is common sense.

Peter Mougey: There’s a couple things to me that jumped out. One was that they, that Facebook was secretly tracking the Internet activity of people regardless of whether they had Facebook’s accounts. But here’s what I thought was interesting is that their answer, from Facebook, they didn’t say, “Oh no, we’re not.” Or, “We’re not gathering information.” Or, “We’re not collecting it.” They said, “The cookies and pixels we use are standard in the sector.” Meaning, “We don’t do anything that anybody else doesn’t.”

Peter Mougey: That’s the standard, as long as it’s a race to the bottom, as long as we just do what everybody else is doing, it’s okay.

Mike Papantonio: Well, and by saying that, they’re saying, “Everybody’s doing it.”

Peter Mougey: Oh yeah. So it’s okay, absolutely.

Mike Papantonio: Look, we’re collecting everything we want about you.

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: We’re collecting every bit of detail we want. We’re hiding the detail from you. You don’t even know that we have the detail. And, oh by the way, we’re then going around and we’re selling it to people so they can make you crazy with sending you all types of advertisements. Now it’s not just the Internet. Now you’re getting it in mail.

Peter Mougey: Oh yeah.

Mike Papantonio: You’re getting telephone calls.

Peter Mougey: And that doggone Alexa thing, I swear that’s part of it. But I thought it was interesting, too, was that the order from the Belgians says that Facebook has to stop tracking and registering Internet usage or else they face a $311,000 fine every day, up to a 124 million for every day it does not comply. Said, “Knock it off, that’s enough.”

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, well not only that, they tell them that you have to destroy the information you have. Now, let me ask you, what are the chances of that ever happening in the United States?

Peter Mougey: Never. Especially in this corporate environment.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, with any kind of agency. Now, Jeff Sessions, Jeff Sessions of course, has had the opportunity through the Department of Justice to do some things, and course we’ve had at least four or five regulatory committees that have had the opportunity to do exactly the same kind of thing that’s happening here. But the truth is, they don’t have any intentions of doing that.

Peter Mougey: Well, he’s too worried about the recreational pot smoker out there.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, marijuana.

Peter Mougey: Yeah, yeah, to worry about this kind of stuff.

Mike Papantonio: So this’ll never happen, that’s the ugly thing about it.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.