Facebook Halts Oculus Sales In Germany Over Privacy Concerns

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German regulator slams decision to require virtual reality headset users to have FB account, so Facebook halts sales in Germany

Facebook has ‘temporarily paused’ sales of Oculus Quest VR headsets to customers in Germany, after privacy criticisms.

It comes after the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HCDPFI) criticised Facebook for its announced requirement that all Oculus users will need to use a Facebook account by 1 January 2023 in order to log in to the device.

The HCDPFI said the obligation to create a Facebook account in order to access an Oculus headset was legally ‘extremely questionable’, at least for those customers who had already bought a virtual reality headset.

Oculus-Rift-5

German sales

Facebook had purchased virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR in 2014 for $1.9 billion.

But following the German regulator criticism, Facebook has halted sales in the country.

“We have temporarily paused selling Oculus devices to consumers in Germany,” Facebook wrote on the Oculus support site.

“We will continue supporting users who already own an Oculus device and we’re looking forward to resuming sales in Germany soon,” it added.

Facebook had warned last month that from October 2020, new Oculus users could log in to their devices from a Facebook account only.

Existing Oculus are to be give the option to merge their Oculus and Facebook accounts, but from 1 January 2023, they will require to log in via a Facebook account.

Privacy focus

Privacy is a big issue for many Germans, and the country tends to have some of the toughest privacy laws in the world.

In February 2019, Facebook said it planned to appeal a decision by Germany’s antitrust regulator that would require the social media company to make sharp changes to the way it collects user data across multiple services and websites.

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) said Facebook had abused its dominant position in the country to carry out “intensive” data processing.

In particular, it said users were largely unaware of the amount of data Facebook collected on them from third-party sources, such as buttons or invisible pixels embedded on third-party websites, third-party website logins that accept Facebook credentials, or Facebook’s own applications, such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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