On Thursday, German regulators ruled that privacy and competition are inextricably linked with huge implications for the large technology companies such as Facebook and Google
On Thursday February 9th, the German Cartel Office ruled that 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 ruling in itself and its rebuttal to Facebook regarding the GDPR compliance claimed by Facebook, essentially said two things:
Furthermore in it's rebuttal on GDPR the cartel office ruled that there was no effective justification for collecting data from other company owned services and Facebook business tools or for assigning data from other sources to Facebook user accounts and that this practice was not essential to providing the services.
The association of privacy issues and that of data collection with competition law and antitrust considerations is at this point without a formal precedence. As such it could be a harbinger of further discussion and advocacy on the application of competition issues to social network practices and perhaps a baby step towards addressing the dominance and Monopoly that the large technology companies such as Facebook and Google present.
While Facebook has appealed the ruling vigorously and a hotly-contested court battle is likely to ensue, if Facebook were to lose the appeal then Germany will become a first case where the surveillance practices of Private industry will come under question, especially with respect to its necessity for the delivery of the services being provided.
Other large tech companies such as Google, Twitter, Amazon and others will no doubt be watching very carefully, as this ruling, if it prevails, will have profound implications for the business model of these companies. It would also be the initial regulatory salvo towards dismantling the dominance and the Monopoly nature of these large technology companies.
Watch this space....