German Regulator Threatens Facebook Data Crackdown

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The Federal Cartel Office in Germany may order Facebook to take action to address concerns regarding its use of data gathered without consumers’ consent if the company fails to do so voluntarily, according to Reuters’ report.

“We are conscious that this should, and must, go quickly,” the president of the watchdog, Andreas Mundt, said, adding he hoped to take “first steps” regarding this in coming months. While it is unclear what these steps will be, they are more likely to include some kind of action rather than a fine.

In a preliminary assessment of the social network in 2017, the cartel office determined Facebook is abusing its dominant position and making the use of its platform “conditional on its being allowed to limitlessly amass every kind of data generated by using third-party websites and merge it with the user’s Facebook account.”

It added these third-party sites include services owned by Facebook such as WhatsApp and Instagram.

The cartel office is also looking into whether new features introduced by Facebook such as a “clear history” option “affects our investigation and addresses our concerns,” Mundt said.

Facebook has been on the hot seat ever since the Cambridge Analytica incident, which forced it to suspend more than 400 apps following an audit of services designed to detect misuse of user data.

Last month Germany’s telecoms regulator Bundesnetzagentur said United States (US) technology giants including Google and Facebook which provide messaging and email services, should be regulated in the same way as telecommunications companies.