On Wednesday Meta responded to the German cartel office’s concerns by allowing the use of its virtual reality headset without a Facebook account, EuroNews reported.
Since spring Germany’s cartel office has been closely watching Meta and their VR acquisition. In May the regulator said its growth was of “paramount significance for competition across markets”, a classification that gives the regulator more scope to curb digital companies’ market power.
Despite winning this concession from Meta, the Bundeskartellamt is not closing its probe of its VR offerings. It said today that it wants to keep an eye on how the tech giant presents these account choice options to VR users ergo, it’s scrutinizing the type of choice architecture (and/or dark patterns) Meta deploys and also said it’s monitoring how Meta proposes to combine user data across different services.
That’s particularly interesting as the German regulator will be hoping to enforce formal data separation between Meta’s VR products and its other social services in the near future.
The Bundeskartellamt’s press release today notes that the extent to which “such data processing is permissible” is a “live discussion topic” between it and Meta, including as a result of the aforementioned legal proceeding pending before the European Court of Justice.
“Until this matter has been clarified, Meta will, subject to certain exceptions, keep the data of users with a separate Meta account which are generated during their use of the Meta Quest headsets separate from the data gathered from other Meta services,” the FCO adds.