Germany (Reuters) - Germany’s antitrust watchdog expects to take
first steps this year in its probe against Facebook (FB.O)
after finding that the social media giant abused its market
dominance to gather data on people without their knowledge or
PHOTO - The logo of Facebook is pictured during the Viva
Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May
25, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
probe is being closely watched in Europe amid mounting concerns
over leaks of data on tens of millions of Facebook users, as well
as the extensive use of targeted ads by foreign powers seeking to
influence elections in the United States.
Federal Cartel Office objects in particular to how Facebook
acquires data on people from third-party apps - including its own
WhatsApp and Instagram services - and its online tracking of
people who aren’t even members.
are conscious that this should, and must, go quickly,” cartel
office President Andreas Mundt told a news conference on Monday,
adding that he hoped to take “first steps” this year. He declined
German probe is not expected to end in fines for Facebook, in
contrast to European Union probes into Google that have ended in
multi-billion-dollar penalties, most recently over the
preinstallation of its apps on Android smartphones.
familiar with the matter say, however, that the cartel office
could require Facebook to take action to address its concerns if
the company fails to do so voluntarily.
responded earlier this year to the cartel office’s request for
information, and the authority was reviewing whether new features
- such as a “clear history” option announced by CEO Mark
Zuckerberg in May - would address its concerns.
need to establish whether this affects our investigation and
addresses our concerns,” Mundt said.
Mundt confirmed comments he made in a newspaper interview earlier
this month that he may launch an investigation into the e-commerce
industry under new powers that enable the cartel office to launch
focus would be on so-called “hybrid” platforms such as U.S.
e-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN.O)
that sell their own products and services, but that also host
question is: what is the relationship between the platform, which
itself is a very powerful trader, and the traders who use the
platform?” said Mundt. He added that Amazon was the best-known of
the e-commerce platforms but his interest in the matter extended
to other players.
cartel office would not be looking at suspected tax evasion by
third-party traders on e-commerce platforms - an issue that
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has vowed to tackle - saying
this was a matter for economic policy makers.
by Douglas Busvine, editing by Louise Heavens