Germany's competition regulator has told Facebook to substantially restrict how it collects and combines data about its users unless they give it explicit consent.
The watchdog has carried out a probe into the social network following concerns that members were unaware of the extent of the firm's activities.
It covered data gathered from third-party sources as well as via Facebook's other apps, including Instagram.
German regulator orders Facebook to restrict data collection
Germany’s anti-monopoly regulator has ordered Facebook not to combine user data from its WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook apps without consent, after a major three-year investigation into potentially anti-competitive actions.
The federal cartel office announced on Thursday that it would be giving the technology company 12 months to change its data policies.
Germany to Facebook: Stop forcing users to share their data
Facebook is pushing back against a German ruling that could make it harder for the company to combine data from all the services it runs in order to target ads even more precisely.
Thursday’s ruling, though aimed at current practices, hints at potential troubles ahead if Facebook follows through with plans to integrate the messaging functions of WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger as early as next year.
Germany Restricts Facebook’s Data Gathering
In a direct challenge to Facebook’s business model, Germany’s competition authority on Thursday sharply curtailed how the tech giant may profile people, saying that users could refuse to allow the company to combine their Facebook information with data about their activities on other sites.
The agency, in a novel antitrust argument, said that the company had exploited its dominant position in the German market by coercing people into giving up their personal data. The social network’s terms of service, regulators said, had unfairly forced people to make an all-or-nothing choice — between submitting to unlimited data collection by the company or not using Facebook at all.