German regulators crackdown on Facebook’s data collection practices

Facebook banned in Germany from pooling user data without consent

One of the key reasons that Facebook is reportedly considering such a merger is to avoid regulation - if all of its platforms are integrated in its back-end, there's no untangling them, Facebook couldn't be ordered, as it has been here, to separate such data points and seek individual permission for usage.

It also prohibited the social media giant from linking the data obtained from third-party websites using technologies like Facebook tracking pixel and social plug-ins.

The extent to which Facebook collects, merges and uses data in user accounts constitutes an abuse of a dominant position. In response, Facebook says it disagrees with the order and will appeal.

The German agency's ruling is not yet final, and Facebook has one month to appeal to the to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.

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Among other conditions, private use of the network is subject to Facebook being able to collect an nearly unlimited amount of any type of user data from third party sources, allocate these to the users' Facebook accounts and use them for numerous data processing processes.

Rather than requiring users to accept that such data can be folded into their Facebook accounts under a one-off agreement to the social network's terms and conditions, users must in future be asked for their specific consent in both cases, the authority said.

German regulator Bundeskartellamt has made a fresh attempt to curb the powers of the internet giants, this time targeting the data processing capabilities of Facebook. The order also applies to the data Facebook gathers through the millions of outside websites that use its social integrations.

The antitrust agency contends that Facebook has a market share of 95 percent daily active users, though it does not count services like Snapchat, YouTube or Twitter in that market, determining that those platforms only "offer parts of the services of a social network".

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This also comes amid reports that Facebook's looking to merge the messaging functionalities of Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, which would further lend itself to this exact type of data sharing.

Speaking after the watchdog cracked down on the transfer of user data between the apps, Andreas Mundt said such a step would "intensify" the very practices that it is seeking to prevent through its ruling.

"The Bundeskartellamt underestimates the fierce competition we face in Germany, misinterprets our compliance with GDPR and undermines the mechanisms European law provides for ensuring consistent data protection standards across the EU", said Facebook in a blog post on Thursday. Facebook collects information from these applications and the user accounts associated with them.

Facebook insists that combining all of that data is actually great.

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Vancouver-based online publication The Tyee reported on January 30 on Facebook's dealings with Royal Bank, prompting queries from parliamentarian Charlie Angus to Canada's privacy commissioner at the January 31 committee meeting in Ottawa. Users must agree to the terms or be excluded from the social network, a hard situation that can not be considered voluntary consent, as required under the law. And, over the years, companies have become more transparent and consumers have learned more about how digital platforms operate.

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