Top German court rules against Facebook on user data collection


In a setback to Facebook, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice upheld the position of the country’s antitrust regulator and ruled that the social networking giant needs to have explicit consent from users while collecting data from its family of apps like Instagram and WhatsApp.

The top German court found that Facebook was using its dominant position in the market to collect user data.

“There are no serious doubts about Facebook’s dominant position in the German market for social networks or that Facebook is abusing this dominant position with the terms of use prohibited by the Cartel Office,” the court said in its ruling on Tuesday.

Germany’s competition regulator, the Federal Cartel Office, last year put restrictions on Facebook on data collection which led the social network to file an appeal. A lower court gave Facebook some relief when it ruled that it did not need to comply till a final court order comes out.

The ruling by the Federal Court of Justice on Tuesday ordered Facebook to comply with what the regulators asked in terms of its data collection practices, while overruling the decision of the lower court.

“The lack of choice for Facebook users not only affects their personal autonomy and the protection of their right to informational self-determination, which is also protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),” the court said.

“Against the background of the high hurdles to change that exist for the users of the network (“lock-in effects”), it also represents an exploitation of the users that is relevant under antitrust law, because competition is no longer effective due to Facebook’s dominant position.”

Facebook, however, said that Tuesday’s decision relates to the preliminary proceedings on the court’s stay order.

“The main proceedings, before the Court of Appeals, are ongoing and we will continue to defend our position that there is no antitrust abuse. There will be no immediate changes for people or businesses who use our products and services in Germany,” Facebook was quoted as saying in a statement by Axios.


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