friday, 8 february of 2019

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Germany prohibits Facebook from using user data extracted from websites or applications without consent

The German competition authorities have stopped him the feet to Facebook. The Federal Antitrust Office has restricted the ability of the largest social network in the world to collect and use data from its users, collected on other platforms such as WhatsApp or Instagram or other Internet sites, as it violates the competition rules.

The office responsible for ensuring free competition believes that with this practice, Facebook abuses its dominant position in the market. "The way in which Facebook collects, combines and uses the data in its user accounts it constitutes an abuse of a dominant position, "the German office said in a statement issued on Thursday that reflects the findings of an investigation launched in March 2016.

Facebook has explained through a blog on its website that they have cooperated for almost three years with the German office, but that "we do not agree with their conclusions and plan to appeal the decision so that people in Germany can continue to benefit fully from all our services". They also maintain that in Germany they must face "a very strong competition" and mention You Tube, Snapchat and Twitter. The Californian group also recalls that less than a year ago it updated its confidentiality conditions to adapt them to the General Data Protection Regulations (RGPD).

The German Minister of Justice, Katarina Barley, welcomed the decision of the antitrust agency. "Users are often unaware of the flow of data and they can not avoid it if they want to continue using the services, "Barley told Reuters. "We have to be rigorous to address the abuse of power that accompanies the data."

Improve your market position
Andreas Mundt, president of the German competition agency, explained that "in the future, Facebook will not be able to force its users to accept the virtually unlimited collection of data that does not come from Facebook and assign it to the profile of users". And he added: "The combination of different data sources has contributed substantially to Facebook having created a unique database for each user and that has improved its position in the market."

The German agency indicates that unless a user offers their consent, the data coming from WhatsApp for example can not be crossed with the Facebook profile. The same would apply to information obtained from third-party websites, even if they are not owned by the large social network. Selecting "like" on a website or browsing a page that includes the button, is enough for that website to send information to Facebook, according to the German competition authorities. "Facebook gets very detailed profiles of its users and knows what they are doing on the Net thanks to the combination of their own social network data, the services and applications they have and external websites," says Mundt.

"The way in which Facebook collects, combines and uses the data in its user accounts constitutes an abuse of a dominant position, "the German office said in a statement

"If there is no consent from the services owned by Facebook or third parties, Facebook will have to substantially restrict the collection and combination of data," says the German competition office, which argues that the company also violates European laws for the protection of data. It is not a final decision, since Facebook now has one month to appeal to the Superior Court of Düsseldorf.

The large social network holds a dominant position in the German market, with 23 million active daily users, representing 95% of that market, according to data published by the antitrust office. Mundt explained that in view of the position of the company in the market, forcing users to accept the conditions of the company if they want to be part of the social network, can not be considered "voluntary consent."

(Published by Spain News, February 07, 2019)

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