Germany: Bundeskartellamt prepares sanctions against Facebook

The Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) in Germany is preparing possible sanctions against US social media giant Facebook, the newspaper “Rheinische Post” reported last week.

The national competition watchdog accuses Facebook of indiscriminately collecting and using data from German users without their knowledge or consent.

“We criticize the fashion in which the company collects and uses personal data as a potential abuse of market power,” Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, told “Rheinische Post.”

According to Mundt, users’ data were systematically collected by Facebook from its own website, as well as from nominal third sources such as Instagram and Whatsapp, without letting them be aware of the practice and thus have an opportunity to object. Bundeskartellamt informed the US Menlo Park-based company about its related antitrust concerns before Christmas.

Mundt said that they would now “wait and see how Facebook reacts to our criticism.” Bundeskartellamt would then decide whether sanctions needed to be applied. Unless the social network proposes a solution of its own, German antitrust authorities will have no other choice than to prohibit the illicit “collection and use of data from third sources without express consent of the users.”

The President of Bundeskartellamt expressed confidence that the so-called “effects doctrine” in competition law would enable it to apply sanctions on Facebook, whose headquarters is abroad. Under the doctrine, which has been the source of controversy among international lawyers, a state is entitled to change behavior which occurs outside of its own jurisdiction when it has domestic implications.

Full Content: Deutsche Welle

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