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.
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.