Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Germany cracks down on Facebook over data harvesting

By Chris Kelly, Total Telecom
Thursday 07 February 19

The US social media giant has been warned that it cannot continue to amalgamate data gathered from third party sources with data from the users' existing Facebook profile

Germany's consumer watchdog has cracked down on Facebook's data gathering processes, saying that the company must seek explicit user consent before it continues its operations. The Budeskartellamt said in a statement to the press that the US social media giant must modify its behaviour in Germany…

Germany's consumer watchdog has cracked down on Facebook's data gathering processes, saying that the company must seek explicit user consent before it continues its operations.

The Budeskartellamt said in a statement to the press that the US social media giant must modify its behaviour in Germany. Facebook has said that it will appeal against the ruling.

The German regulator expressed concerns that Facebook was using data gathered from its auxiliary apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp to build a complex picture of how users were spending their time online.

"By combining data from its own website, company-owned services and the analysis of third-party websites, Facebook obtains very detailed profiles of its users and knows what they are doing online," said Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt.

The Bundeskartellamt has ruled that Facebook can continue to collect data but must refrain from combining it with the users main Facebook account, without first obtaining their express consent. The ruling will only apply to Facebook's activities in Germany.

“In the 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. The combination of data sources substantially contributed to the fact that Facebook was able to build a unique database for each individual user and thus to gain market power. In future, consumers can prevent Facebook from unrestrictedly collecting and using their data. The previous practice of combining all data in a Facebook user account, practically without any restriction, will now be subject to the voluntary consent given by the users," Mundt said.  

Facebook now has one month to submit a formal appeal against the ruling. 

 

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