Germany’s competition watchdog has banned Facebook from collecting user data from WhatsApp, Instagram, and other Facebook apps, without users’ consent.
The Federal cartel office ordered Facebook not to combine data from its own suite of social platforms without user consent. It also prohibited the social media giant from linking the data obtained from third-party websites using technologies like Facebook tracking pixel and social plug-ins.
Germany’s Bundeskartellamt has given a 12-month time to Facebook for changing its user’s data collection policies. Meanwhile, Facebook wrote in a blog post that it will appeal against the decision.
The order against Facebook is a result of a three-year antitrust probe that started in March 2016. Andreas Mundt, the president of the office, said:
“Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts…the previous practice of combining all data in a Facebook user account, practically without any restriction, will now be subject to the voluntary consent given by the users.”
The German office called Facebook data collection practices as “exploitative abuse” and that the company’s conduct is in complete violation of European data protection rules. On the other hand, Facebook says that the German regulator “misinterprets” it’s compliance with the Europian GDPR Laws.
Yvonne Cunnane, Head of Data Protection at Facebook, also disagreed with the office’s allegation of dominance in the market. “We face fierce competition in Germany, yet the Bundeskartellamt finds it irrelevant that our apps compete directly with YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter and others.”
Only a few days ago, it was revealed that Facebook is planning to unify its social media platforms. Post the new order, things would get really difficult for the company, considering Facebook revenue is entirely based on user’s data collection and targeted ads.
However, things are not all that bad. Bundeskartellamt says Facebook will be obliged to develop proposals for possible solutions and submit them to the authority. Of course, if the German Regulator doesn’t like them Facebook might lose its ability to combine data.