EU’s Facebook Antitrust Data Demands Stalled

Facebook may be able to slow down European Union investigators’ demands to turn over vast amounts of data after an EU court ruling that potentially frustrates efforts to build an antitrust case against the US tech giant, reported Bloomberg.

The European Commission can’t force the social network giant to hand over potentially sensitive information without a detailed review, Marc van der Woude, president of the EU General Court said in a decision Thursday, October 29. While the court didn’t completely suspend the EU’s information requests, it told regulators to work with Facebook in identifying which data is sensitive and to store the information in a “virtual data room.”

“The members of the team responsible for the investigation shall examine and select the documents in question,” while giving Facebook lawyers “the opportunity to comment on them before the documents considered relevant are placed on the file,” van der Woude said in the court order.

The EU last year started examining Facebook’s sales platform and how it uses data from apps, as part of a broader crackdown on Silicon Valley. The EU is also looking at how Amazon collects data from retailers through its platform and there are investigations into Apple’s App Store. Regulators can require companies to give documents mentioning certain keywords under threat of fines.

Facebook said in a statement that it particularly welcomed the court’s assessment “that highly personal and irrelevant information enjoy strong legal protections which need to be respected in the commission’s ongoing investigation.”

“In the meantime, we continue to cooperate with the commission and have already provided it with over a million documents,” the company stated.

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