Meta Loses Appeal on How It Harvests Data in Germany

On Tuesday, the European Union’s Supreme Court upheld a German antitrust regulator’s ruling that the company abused its dominance in social media by collecting information about its users, Meta’s data collection practices. was questioned.

The ruling in this case, which was highlighted by the European Court of Justice, has led Germany’s highest antitrust enforcement agency, the Bundeskartellamt, to authorize Meta to combine the data it collects about its users on various platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. paved the way to stop it. Applies to external his websites and apps unless explicit permission has been obtained from the user.

This decision undermines Meta’s business model, which relies on selling targeted ads based on the large amount of data that users collect as they use Metaservices and browse the wider Internet. Thing.

The decision has given new impetus to those who advocate tighter regulation of the world’s biggest tech companies. Although the ruling applies only to German metaservices, it is expected to affect other antitrust authorities in the European Union.

A new EU antitrust law, dubbed the Digital Markets Law, will come into force in the next few months, giving regulators new powers to foster competition in the tech sector.

In particular, Tuesday’s court ruling gives European Union authorities a stronger legal basis to investigate how data collection practices may harm competition. A new direction for antitrust law enforcement.

The court said regulators investigating antitrust cases can also investigate whether companies have violated the European Union’s data protection law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In 2019, German regulators used a novel interpretation of antitrust law to determine that Meta’s data collection practices violated not only competition rules but also GDPR. The amount of data is reduced simply because a user has signed up to use one of the company’s services.

Germany’s top antitrust regulator, Andreas Mundt, said Meta’s policy amounted to a bad choice, with people either using Meta’s services to share data or leaving it entirely via the company’s ubiquitous social media sites. He said he would be forced to leave.

The company appealed the decision, which was eventually brought before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Mundt has long called on regulators to take tougher action against Facebook and other tech giants. He said Facebook uses the data it collects from users to strengthen its position against rivals and stifle competition.

In a statement, Meta said it was “evaluating the court’s decision and will be making further statements in due course.”

The company will now have to make changes in Germany to comply with the ruling. This may include new menus that give users more choices about how data is collected.

But the decision also affects other online platforms such as Amazon, Google and TikTok, which collect large amounts of data for digital advertising.

“This ruling paves the way for more effective enforcement against dominant digital platforms,” ​​Ursula Pakul, deputy secretary-general of the consumer rights group European Consumer Agency, said in a statement. .

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