German Competition Authorities Impose Restrictions on Facebook for Privacy Violations

February 7, 2019

Germany's competition agency has imposed restrictions on Facebook's practice of combining user data from across its platforms, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, and prohibited the company from linking third-party data to specific Facebook user accounts. The agency President said, "Today data are a decisive factor in competition. In the case of Facebook they are the essential factor for establishing the company's dominant position." EPIC has long warned that data consolidation poses a significant threat to competition and innovation. EPIC opposed Facebook's 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp, warning that Facebook would use WhatsApp data on other platforms. In recent comments to the FTC, EPIC told the Commission that Facebook achieved its "dominance through unrivaled access to consumer data." And as early as 2008, EPIC warned that "dominant Internet firms are moving to consolidate their control over the Internet." EPIC continues to oppose platform consolidation, and recently filed an amicus brief, challenging Facebook's web tracking practices.

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