German regulators crackdown on Facebook’s data collection practices

German regulators crackdown on Facebook’s data collection practices

Germany's antitrust watchdog, the Bundeskartellamt, will prohibit Facebook from assigning data collected by company-owned services WhatsApp and Instagram to users' Facebook accounts without their explicit permission.

"Users are often unaware of this flow of data and can not prevent it if they want to use the services", she said. Facebook will no longer be able to associate any of that data to a German user's Facebook account without their voluntary consent.

Facebook was slapped with a ruling in Germany today that limits how the social media giant can collect data across its multiple platforms, like WhatsApp and Instagram.

"The Bundeskartellamt underestimates the fierce competition we face in Germany, misinterprets our compliance with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and threatens the mechanism European law provides for ensuring consistent data protection standards across the EU".

If Facebook fails to comply it could be faced with fines of up to 10% of the company's annual global revenues, which grew to $55.8 billion past year.

Facebook has already stated it will appeal the decision with the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, though this should come as little surprise considering the attack on the foundations of the social media giants business model.

"By combining data from its own website, company-owned services and the analysis of third-party websites, Facebook obtains very detailed profiles of its users and knows what they are doing online", Mundt said.

Over the past several months, Facebook has been embroiled in a number of scandals related to data breach and faced accusations of selling user data, which the company itself has denied. And the Bundeskartellamt alleges that Facebook has used this data collection in anti-competitive ways.

Germany's justice minister said Facebook's move is "an attempt to create a monopoly" that poses antitrust and privacy questions.

"We need to make it so that people can communicate across the different networks and graphs that they have or be able to do that integration better in order to facilitate more transactions and connections there", Zuckerberg said.

The regulator said it had not included services such as Snapchat, YouTube or Twitter, and professional networks like LinkedIn and Xing, as being in the market it has considered Facebook to be dominant in because they "only offer parts of the services of a social network and are thus not to be included in the relevant market".

Germany's federal cartel office has ruled that Facebook abused its market dominance to gather information about users without their knowledge or consent. The regulator said this is against European Union data protection laws.

The Bundeskartellamt has overlooked how Facebook actually processes data and the steps we take to comply with the GDPR.

According to the German cartel office, the Bundeskartellamt, the social network has violated mandatory European data protection principles.

Likewise, the Facebook Login, which lets users avoid having to type in a unique username and password for each service, shares similar device-identifying information.

German anti-trust authorities have ruled against Facebook over its methods of combining user data from different sources, including WhatsApp and Instagram.

Sandra Wachter, a lawyer and Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, earlier said (to WIRED) that Facebook's plan to merge the platforms is bound to trigger privacy concerns.