Germany Investigating Facebook's Data Collection Practices

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is investigating Facebook's data collection practices pertaining to the manner in which the company tracks its users across the entire Internet and analyzes their browsing habits far outside the scope of its own social network, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing an emailed statement from the regulator. The authority is concerned with the practice and its implications for digital privacy, having confirmed it's currently in the process of weighing its options and will decide whether to sanction the social media giant. The probe itself is expected to be concluded in mid-2018 and may simply result in the FCO demanding a number of concessions and assurances from Facebook instead of hitting the Menlo Park, California-based company with fines.

The FCO is also investigating whether consumers have provided Facebook with explicit consent to be tracked as part of the platform's terms of use, according to the agency. The world's largest social media service already responded to the matter, claiming that the German regulator is making unfounded allegations in regards to how the company truly operates and adding that Facebook isn't the "dominant" website in Germany despite being the country's most popular social network. Should Facebook be penalized on the matter, such a development may force it to significantly change its advertising business model that relies on serving highly targeted ads to people based on a broad range of data, including the websites they visit outside of Facebook. The FCO gave no indications in regards to the direction in which its ongoing investigation is leaning but should share more details on the matter by spring.

Facebook has already been criticized by German authorities on several occasions in recent times and even provoked a direct regulatory intervention due to sharing user data with its subsidiary WhatsApp. That particular case still hasn't been resolved on a continental level but France is now conducting a standalone investigation into the matter, with the main issue being that Facebook and WhatsApp claimed they aren't technologically capable of matching their data libraries with each other during the 2014 review of their proposed merger, then doing so anyway after two years without even asking for explicit consent from users.

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About the Author

Dominik Bosnjak

Senior Writer
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]