Germany's antitrust watchdog, the Federal Cartel Office (the Bundeskartellamt) ruled on Thursday that Facebook abused its dominant market position in gathering, merging and using users' data. In addition to that, the competition authority also noted that the social media giant was no longer allowed to combine users'data from diverse apps such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and other third-party websites without having the users' explicit consent.
Andreas Mundt, the chairman of the Federal Cartel Office, commented that Facebook would no longer be able to force its users to agree to the unrestricted collection of non-Facebook data to their private Facebook accounts.
Mundth also emphasized that Facebook's terms of service and especially the way the social media firm gathers and uses data were not in line with Europe's data protection laws. According to the watchdog, many Facebook users were not aware that the company gathers ''almost unlimited'' amount of their private data from third-party apps, including Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram that are connected to the user's Facebook account.
In a block post earlier today, Mark Zuckerberg's company confirmed it would appeal the court decision. Furthermore, Facebook openly accused the Bundelskartellamt in not taking into account the fierce competition the company faced in Germany.
Moreover, in Facebook's view, the watchdog also misinterpreted the firm's compliance with all the relevant European Union data privacy regulations. To conclude, Facebook asserted that Germany was trying to impose unconventional standards for a single company. What happens from now on?
The German court ruling is only valid for private Facebook users within the country, but chances are high it could impact other jurisdictions too, commented sources familiar with the matter. The social media firm has now one month to oppose the decision.
If Facebook decides to comply with the ruling, it has four months to develop the necessary technical solutions. In case it refuses to do so, it could be fined up to 10 percent of its annual revenues.
Also, the court ruling could affect Facebook's Like and Share buttons on external sites which allows the company to trace each visitor's internet protocol and IP address, web browser and version, as well as other relevant private data. That is still valid even the user never uses these buttons.
The court decision would also have an impact on the Facebook Pixel scheme which adds a specific code to a third-party site to let its owners whether the people who saw the ads on Facebook turned into buyers.
So, do you think Germany would stop Facebook's dominant market position?