Germany Challenges Facebook's Business Practices

Antitrust regulators in Germany are ordering Facebook to change the way it tracks users across digital channels.  

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office -- or Bundeskartellamt -- warned the company that within the year, it must stop collecting the data of unsuspecting consumers and combining it with their Facebook accounts.

In response, Facebook said it plans to fight German regulators in count; it took issue with its specific demands.

“While we’ve cooperated with the Bundeskartellamt for nearly three years and will continue our discussions, we disagree with their conclusions and intend to appeal so that people in Germany continue to benefit fully from all our services,” Yvonne Cunnane and Nikhil Shanbhag, Facebook’s head of data protection in Ireland and director-associate general counsel, said in an official statement.

“The Bundeskartellamt underestimates the fierce competition we face in Germany, misinterprets our compliance with (General Data Protection Regulation) and undermines the mechanisms European law provides for ensuring consistent data protection standards across the EU,” according to Cunnane and Shanbhag.

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Taking issue with German regulators’ characterization of Facebook as a monopoly, Cunnane and Shanbhag cite their own survey showing that over 40% of social media users in Germany don’t use the social network.

Since the GDPR went into effect last year, the comprehensive European data law has threatened a number of U.S. tech titans with significant fines.

In the wake of a security breach that affected roughly 50 million Facebook accounts late last year, European regulators reportedly threatened the company with over $1 billion in fines.

Facebook’s lead European privacy regulator, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), made its concerns public last October.

Last month, privacy regulators in France hit Google with roughly $57 million in fines for failing to comply with GDPR guidelines.

The French National Data Protection Commission said the U.S. search giant failed to obtain consumers’ consent before using their data to deliver more targeted advertising.  

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