Facebook Twists The Plot, Sues The EU Over Data Requests

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Facebook has now reportedly filed multiple lawsuits against the EU antitrust regulator, essentially suing the Commission for requesting too much data. That's based on statements made by the company, alleging that the requests for data go beyond what's necessary. No fewer than three suits have been filed in the matter. That includes two against the European Commission and another in Luxembourg's General Court.

The social media giant is requesting, in each case, that requests for data be reviewed by EU Courts and judges before being sent to Facebook.

Why is Facebook suing over data requests now?

According to a statement attributed to Facebook associate general counsel Tim Lamb, Facebook's concern comes down to the "broad nature" of the requests in question. The data that's being requested, the company says, goes well beyond ongoing EU investigations into the company. In some cases, it asserts, the requests are themselves effectively a violation of data protection.

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That's because, Facebook says, the resulting documents sent to the Commission contain highly sensitive personal information. And that includes information about employees, ranging from medical information to financial documents. Private information about family members of employees has reportedly been handed over as well.

In total, Facebook has sent EU regulators over 315,000 documents — more than 1.7-million pages. And the researchers are said to be sifting through those looking for keywords and phrases. Some of those, Facebook argues, show up in documents pertaining to employee health information, for example.

What are the investigations about?

Facebook has not been a paragon of data privacy and protection over the past several years. Aside from selling out user data, the company has also been remarkably consistent when it comes to data breaches.

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Both of those transgressions are a big deal. Especially for a company that's behind some of the most popular apps and services on the web or on mobile. But the investigations in question appear to stem from two separate inquiries. The first is an investigation into the amount of data collected and stored by Facebook. The second pertains more directly to Facebook's marketplace for selling and buying items.

What, exactly the EU is looking for has reportedly been outlined by a source said to be close to the matter. Specifically, EU regulators are looking for documents containing any of around 2,500 phrases. That includes phrases such as "big question," "shut down," and "not good for us," among others.

It’s not immediately clear when the proceedings will take place or how long they may run. In the interim, the EU Commission has said that it will defend its case in court.

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