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Germany’s Cartel Agency Accuses Facebook Of Abusing Its Dominance

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is accusing Facebook of abusing its dominant stature in the market by, among other things, collecting data on users through third-party means.

Bundeskartellamt, the competition watchdog agency presented its findings from a probe lasting nearly two years, according to Reuters, and ruled that Facebook is violating the country’s rules when it gains access to massive amounts of data — even if the data is from WhatsApp and Instagram, two highly popular apps that the tech giant owns.

Facebook directly responded to Germany’s objection, calling Germany’s report “inaccurate.”

“The reality is that Facebook doesn’t show any of the signs of a dominant company in Germany or elsewhere,” Yvonne Cunnane, head of data protection for Facebook’s Ireland office, wrote in a blog post titled “Popularity Does Not Equal Dominance.”

“A dominant company operates in a world where customers don’t have alternatives,” she continued. “Taking a look at the average smartphone home screen shows that the reality is much different. People in Germany and elsewhere have many choices for sharing, discovery, and communications, and Facebook is just one of those options.”

Cunnane specifically addresses Germany’s concerns about data protection, or lack thereof.

“We agree with Bundeskartellamt that data protection is an important topic, and lawmakers in Germany and across Europe do as well,” Cunnane said. “It’s why they built on existing laws and created the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), putting in place strong enforcement measures that hold Facebook and other companies accountable. These rules apply to everyone across Europe because people deserve to have their data protected, regardless of the size of the company they’re dealing with.”

Germany’s overarching policy on privacy, especially as it relates to the company’s use of personal data, has been fairly stringent in recent history, and Chancellor Angela Merkel seems intent on keeping it that way.

Germany’s investigation, which will likely not lead to a monetary punishment, comes right after France’s data privacy watchdog complained that Facebook unlawfully collects data from the proprietary WhatsApp. (RELATED: France Investigation Leads To Official Complaint Of Amazon’s Massive Power)

France has reportedly expressed considerations of a substantial fine.

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