Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is restricting Facebook’s collection of data from other sites that it owns like WhatsApp.
The social media giant will only be allowed to use data from various non-Facebook programmes and apps that it owns, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, with explicit user consent. Currently, Facebook bundles together much of the information it gleans from users across its various platforms.
“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,” Andreas Mundt, president of the antitrust watchdog, said on Thursday in Bonn.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the ruling, which came after a one-year investigation, does not yet have legal force and Facebook have a month to appeal the ruling, which it says it intends to do.
“The Federal Cartel Office underestimates the fierce competition we face in Germany, misinterprets our compliance with the GDPR, and threatens the mechanism European law provides for ensuring consistent data protection standards across the EU,” Facebook said.
But the cartel office ruled that the extent to which Facebook collects data without the consent of a user is “abusive”.
It said Facebook could face fines of up to 10% of its annual global revenue, which grew by 37% to €49.2bn if it fails to comply.