Facebook has a very uneasy relationship with regulators in Germany and now the company is being investigated for abusing its power over user data, which may mean it’s breaking local data protection or monopoly laws.
The Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office) says it is working closely with relevant bodies within the European Union, which means the consequences could reach right across the region if it is found to be abusing its position.
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“For advertising-financed internet services such as Facebook, user data is hugely important,” the national competition watchdog’s president Andreas Mundt said in a statement.
“For this reason it is essential to also examine under the aspect of abuse of market power whether the consumers are sufficiently informed about the type and extent of data collected.”
The organization has the power to hand out fines but a spokesperson told TNW that a likely “potential outcome could be a change of the terms and conditions currently used by Facebook in Germany.”
A Facebook spokesperson said in an email sent to TNW: “We are confident that we comply with the law and we look forward to working with the Federal Cartel Office to answer their questions.”
A €100,000 fine was upheld against Facebook in Germany just two days ago for its failure to properly inform users about ownership of the content they post on the site.
The head of Facebook in Europe was also being investigated in the country in November for allowing racist posts to be put on the site.
In response to this, Facebook launched the €1 million Online Civil Courage Initiative at the start of this year in collaboration with the German government.