NEWS20 December 2017

German regulator warns Facebook over third-party data collection

Data analytics Europe Mobile News Privacy

GERMANY – Facebook’s collection and use of data from third-party sources is ‘abusive’, according to Germany’s federal cartel authority.

Facebook on phone

The preliminary assessment of an administrative proceeding against Facebook, released by the Bundeskartellamt yesterday ( 19 December), outlined the authority’s concerns over Facebook amassing data on its users from third-party sources – including WhatsApp and Instagram, which are owned by Facebook, and websites and apps with Facebook APIs – and merging it with the user’s account.

The authority criticised the social media network for abusing its dominant market position by making by making use of its service conditional on it collecting data generated by using third-party websites.

Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, said: "We are mostly concerned about the collection of data outside Facebook’s social network and the merging of this data into a user’s Facebook account. Via APIs, data are transmitted to Facebook and are collected and processed by Facebook even when a Facebook user visits other websites.”

He added: “From the current state of affairs we are not convinced that users have given their effective consent to Facebook’s data tracking and the merging of data into their Facebook account. The extent and form of data collection violate mandatory European data protection principles."

The statement comes a day after France’s data protection agency Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) told WhatsApp to cease data sharing with Facebook for ‘business intelligence’ purposes.