Germany: Facebook ordered to gather less data

Germany’s competition authority has told Facebook it can only continue gathering so much data about users from beyond its app and website if it gets individuals’ consent.

The watchdog has carried out a probe into the social network following concerns that members were unaware of the extent of the firm’s activities.

It covered data gathered from third-party sources as well as via Facebook’s other apps, including Instagram.

The US firm has said it will appeal.

Specifically, the FCO has ruled that:

  • Facebook’s various services can continue to collect data, but they cannot combine it with the user’s main Facebook account unless the member gives their voluntary consent
  • collecting data from third-party websites and assigning it to a Facebook user’s account is likewise only allowed if that member has given the firm permission

The watchdog added that an “obligatory tick on the box” to agree to all the company’s terms was not a sufficient basis for “such intensive data processing”.

The ruling only applies to the firm’s activities in Germany, but is likely to influence other regulators.

Facebook claims the Federal Cartel Office has overstepped the mark by pursuing a data privacy matter that Facebook says falls under the remit of another regulator.

It has one month to challenge the ruling before it becomes legally effective.

 

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