Germany's Competition Authority Prohibits Facebook From Combining User Data From Different Sources

Author:Herzog Fox & Neeman
Profession:Herzog Fox & Neeman

Germany's Competition Authority ("the Bundeskartellamt") has imposed far-reaching restrictions in the processing of user data on Facebook.

According to Facebook's terms and conditions, users will need to provide their consent in order for Facebook to collect the user's data outside of Facebook's website, via the internet or on smartphone apps, and to assign such data to the user's Facebook account.

However, according to the Bundeskartellamt's decision, given Facebook's dominant position in the German market for social networks, which is indicative of a monopolization process, Facebook becomes subject to specific obligations under competition law, given that users cannot on a practical level, switch to other social networks. In this regard, an obligatory tick box agreeing to the company's terms of use is not considered an adequate basis for such intensive data processing.

The Bundeskartellamt calls attention to the fact that Facebook collects a massive amount of data from third-party websites with an embedded "Like" button, even if no Facebook symbol is visible. By combining data from its own website, company-owned services and the analysis of third party websites, Facebook obtains very detailed profiles of its users, who have no choice but to consent to this practice.

In accordance with the Bundeskartellamt's decision, the extent to which Facebook...

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