German Antitrust Agency Rules Against Facebook Re Data Abuse

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice recently announced its ruling against Facebook’s data collection and usage, said The New York Times. According to the country’s highest court, the social media company abused its dominance to illegally gather data.

The decision was based on a ruling by the Federal Cartel Office, Germany’s antitrust watchdog, and competition regulator. This verdict is considered a significant win for supporters of the calls to increase regulations on technology companies.

This is not the first time that the social media giant faced scrutiny from the agency. Last year, regulators ruled against the company’s practice of “coercing” users to give out their info and using such data to “profile” them, according to another New York Times report.

German Antitrust Agency Rules Against Facebook

The 2019 decision prohibits Facebook from combining data gathered within its service with those gathered through other platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp, websites, and third-party apps. Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook.

However, the firm was able to successfully appeal the ruling after receiving a verdict that the watchdog “overstepped their legal authority,” as per the report.

On Tuesday, the watchdog once again argued its claims against the social media firm when the federal court deemed the regulators’ claims to be correct and that the company was indeed abusing its dominance in the market.

The court said, “There are neither serious doubts about Facebook’s dominant position on the German social network market nor the fact that Facebook is abusing this dominant position.” It also emphasized that the firm “bears a special responsibility for maintaining still-existing competition in the social networking market.”

The New York Times report clarified that this recent ruling may not be the last one. According to the official procedure, a lower court must provide the same verdict.

While antitrust lawyers view this process as a mere formality, there remains a possibility that a lower court would favor Facebook.

Aside from this, German authorities could still send the case to the European Court of Justice, which deals with complicated legal matters from member states.

In a statement, Facebook said that it will “continue to defend [its] position that there is no antitrust abuse.” It said that it will put up a fight and will not take immediate changes to its practices, claiming that it has months before it is forced to comply.

Facebook is just another tech company that faced investigation in Europe.