Germany’s antitrust watchdog ruled on February 7th, 2019 that Facebook has abused its market dominance in collecting, merging and using user data. Facebook somehow thinks Germany is confusing privacy with anti-trust, a poor argument.
The U.S. might not take anti-trust seriously with the Ad duopoly and Amazon in E-commerce but Europe has different ideas. A lack of anti-trust scrutiny by U.S. regulators has created a Media industry that has been nearly entirely disrupted in a zero sum game damaging democracy.
Germany’s competition authority said Facebook could no longer combine users’ data from separate apps like WhatsApp and Instagram without voluntary user consent. Facebook recently announced it’s actually merging the messaging functions of these different popular apps, which would make matters even worse.
- The ruling signals that Facebook abused its market dominance in collecting, merging and using user data.
- The German competition authority, called the Bundeskartellamt, said it was imposing far-reaching restrictions on how Facebook processes user data and gathers consent.
In future, Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts. — Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt
You can read the Press release here. In a world of fair competition when do American tech companies face anti-trust scrutiny to be broken up? Would the world not be a better place if AWS or Instagram were separate companies from Amazon and Facebook respectively?
- Facebook has one month to appeal the decision, which it said it will do in a blog post.
- Facebook has been ordered to curb its data collection practices in Germany, but American companies like Google, Uber and Facebook seem nearly immune to actual regulation abroad.
- Violations of GDPR, short for the General Data Protection Regulation, could see companies fined up to 4 percent of their global annual revenues.
Europe is much more privacy & human rights online conscious than America, and Silicon Valley have had their way with globalization for the most part. Germany’s watchdog said many users are unaware that Facebook collects an “almost unlimited” amount of data from third-party sources.
Major U.S. tech companies have spawned a use of data via advertising business models that is the first step to creating a global surveillance architecture of capitalism.
In the race to AI, many analysts believe the Chinese will take this model a step further and create a radical weaponization of human data for not only profit, but as a form of economic, political and commercial control of the future of technology.
The Bundeskartellamt has imposed on Facebook far-reaching restrictions in the processing of user data. As usual however with Facebook, they manage to skirt the law and with 2.32 billion monthly active users have already gotten far too big where the only recourse would be to actually break them up into pieces and sub companies and supplant each with separate and new CEOs.
In Germany, Facebook has a dominant position in the German market for social networks. With 23 million daily active users and 32 million monthly active users Facebook has a market share of more than 95 percent. It’s unclear if this new ruling will inspire other countries to take a similar stance.
The decision is the culmination of a three-year investigation into the social media company by the German watchdog. The investigation of Facebook data-gathering practices began in March 2016 by the Bundeskartellamt. One of the greatest risks to our mental health online is the lack of regulation and Facebook’s anti-trust violation practices are a prime example of this.