Germany May Order Facebook To Halt Some Data Collection

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Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is reportedly taking aim at Facebook’s collection of user data from third-party sources

Germany’s competition regulator may be preparing to order Facebook to stop collecting some user data in the country, following a lengthy investigation.

The country’s Federal Cartel Office has been looking into Facebook’s data practices since 2016, and at the end of 2017 found that the company’s actions were “abusive” due to its dominant position.

FCO president Andreas Mundt last year said it was urgent to take the next steps “quickly”.

Taking action

Germany’s Bild am Sonntag on Sunday reported that the FCO is now preparing to demand action from Facebook sometime in the next few weeks.

The regulator has particular concerns about Facebook’s collection of data from third-party sources, including a broad range of services that allow users to log in with their Facebook credentials, as well as apps such as WhatsApp and Instagram that are wholly owned by Facebook.

Facebook also collects users’ browsing habits from “Like” buttons integrated into sites across the web.

The report suggested Facebook may be banned from collecting data from such sources, which the FCO deems is obtained without users’ consent or knowledge.

The paper’s unnamed sources said Facebook could be given a deadline for compliance, rather than being ordered to take action immediately, as is usually the case.

Facebook could be fined up to 10 million euros (£8m) if it fails to comply.

Data collection

The social network said it is challenging the FCO’s findings and would continue to defend its position.

Data collection issues have taken on more urgency over the past year in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which brought to public attention use of massive amounts of Facebook user information by third parties for political purposes.

The passage of new European data protection laws into force last May has also placed more obligations on organisations that handle sensitive data, as well as exposing them to the risk of massive fines.

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