Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) on Thursday banned Mark Zuckerberg led company - Facebook from combining user data across its platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram without users permission in Germany. This decision came after a result of almost 3 year antitrust investigation into Facebook’s data gathering practices. Now, the social media giant will not be able to glean user data from third party sites without voluntary consent from the user.
However, Facebook is less widely used in Germany as compared to other western countries. Out of 83 million population, there are around 32 million monthly active users from Germany. The body stated that the social media giant has been gathering information about people by following their activities on other websites and apps like Instagram. Facebook Launches Political Ad Transparency Tool in India Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.
Bundeskartellamt President Andreas Mundt said, "With regard to Facebook’s future data processing policy, we are carrying out what can be seen as an internal divestiture of Facebook’s data". "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."
Moreover, several experts agreed with the decision. Marc Al-Hames, general manager of German data protection technologies developer Cliqz GmbH mentioned, "It is high time to regulate the internet giants effectively!” said Marc Al-Hames, general manager of German data protection technologies developer Cliqz GmbH. “Unregulated data capitalism inevitably creates unfair conditions."
He further continued by saying, "indispensable for many young people,” who feel compelled to join if they want to be part of the social scene. “Social media create social pressure. And Facebook exploits this mercilessly: Give me your data or you’re an outsider.”
"But that’s not all: Facebook monitors our activities regardless of whether we are a member of one of its networks or not. Even those who consciously renounce the social networks for the sake of privacy will still be spied out."
Al-Hames also stated that the regulators shouldn’t stop with Facebook only, which he referred as the number two offender. He continued by saying, “By far the most important data monopolist is Alphabet. With Google search, the Android operating system, the Play Store app sales platform and the Chrome browser, the internet giant collects data on virtually everyone in the Western world.