Germany Restricts Facebook’s Data Collection Efforts

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. — File

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. — File

'We disagree with their conclusions and intend to appeal so that people in Germany continue to benefit fully from all our services.' Facebook said in a blog post.

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 a year ago.

"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", said Mundt.

Recently, reports that Facebook was planning to bring user data from its acquisitions WhatsApp and Instagram into much closer conjunction with that of its own Messenger had emerged.

With nearly 30 million users in Germany - 23 million of them logging in daily - Facebook is a dominant player, the cartel authority said in preliminary findings published in December 2017. It has now prohibited this practice, which it says exploits Facebook users.

In Ireland, where Facebook has its European base, the data protection commission has already opened seven probes into the company under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, that could result in hefty fines.

The case built by Bundeskartellamt is based on what it has deemed market abuses by the dominant social media player in Germany.

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Media have reported that the "Like" buttons strewn around webpages - used to collect browsing data even when people are not using the Facebook website - could be forbidden. That's because of Facebook's promises that it would keep the companies separate when it bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.

It said that companies such as Snapchat (SNAP), Google's (GOOGL) YouTube and Twitter(TWTR) don't offer the same services as Facebook and therefore can't be included in the market.

But Facebook, which history will no doubt judge harshly as being a net negative for humanity, is pushing back and maintains that there's real competition among social media platforms in the country.

With its landmark ruling, which gives Facebook one month to appeal, the FCO argued that the company's market dominance meant it had "special obligations" under competition law. It outlined the FCO's views on the value of the data Facebook has access to.

Germany has announced a clampdown on Facebook's "unrestricted" gathering of personal data from other websites. And, Facebook says that the competition agency shouldn't have jurisdiction over this matter. "Yet the Bundeskartellamt is trying to implement an unconventional standard for a single company". The story broke wide open in March of 2018 when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had used Facebook data to target Americans and help swing the 2016 presidential election for President Donald Trump.

The practise becomes a bit more nefarious however. There's a lot more to come yet, Facebook will appeal, the decision will be re-examined over and over again in detail. Since then Facebook has faced countless questions about its privacy practices from governments around the world.

"Facebook's monitoring under Project Atlas is particularly concerning because the data collection performed by the research app was deeply invasive", wrote the lawmakers in their letter to Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg.

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