German regulators crackdown on Facebook’s data collection practices

German regulators have ordered Facebook to curb its data collection practices, after a landmark ruling on Thursday.

German regulators crackdown on Facebook’s data collection practices Source: Bloomberg

Germany's federal cartel office has ruled that Facebook abused its market dominance to gather information about users without their knowledge or consent.

It comes after global backlash against Facebook was fuelled by last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The scandal resulted in tens of millions of Facebook profiles were harvested without their users knowing.

Watchdog bans feeding data from WhatsApp, Instagram to Facebook

Regulators have objected to how Facebook used data on people from third-party apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as tracking people through Facebook 'like' or 'share' buttons.

‘In future, Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook accounts,’ Federal cartel office chief Andreas Mundt said.

Facebook has appealed the decision, saying the regulator underestimated the competition it faced, and had not considered a Europe-wide privacy rule that took effect last year.

'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.

Implications

Facebook would only be allowed to assign data from WhatsApp or Instagram to its main Facebook app accounts with voluntary consent from its users. Collecting data from third-party websites and assigning it to Facebook would require consent.

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 last year.

Facebook has an estimated 23 million daily active users in Germany, giving it a market share of 95%, according to the cartel office.

German justice minister Katarina Barley welcomed the probe, saying the company was collecting data far beyond its platform.

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