Facebook is ordered by the German watchdog Bundeskartellamt to severely restrict the collection of data. For example, it must have explicit permission to collect data via Like buttons on other sites. Facebook is appealing the decision.
Facebook must have explicit permission from users to combine data from accounts in Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, Bundeskartellamt believes. Otherwise, the information must remain within the service where Facebook collects it. The collection of data via Like buttons on third-party websites is also only allowed after explicit permission. The fine that the watchdog can impose for violations is a maximum of 10 percent of a company’s annual turnover. Facebook’s annual revenue is tens of billions of dollars. The watchdog also imposes the measures because of the dominant market position of Facebook’s services. According to the authority, this dominant position leads to abuse of power.
Facebook is appealing the decision. The company believes that exchanging data between WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram helps users to stay safer online and that it helps to prevent fraudulent accounts, among other things. In addition, Facebook does not consider itself dominant in the social media market, because it has competition from Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube, among others.
The German watchdog is not the first to conclude after an investigation that Facebook should stop certain forms of data collection. European privacy authorities previously concluded that WhatsApp should not share data with Facebook and the company has already been fined in Spain for exchanging data between WhatsApp and Facebook.