Facebook pushes back against EU demands for ‘irrelevant’ documents

28 Jul 2020

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Facebook claimed that the EU’s demand for documents in its antitrust case includes unnecessary, highly sensitive information.

A European antitrust investigation launched last summer into how Facebook uses data from its marketplace platform could face delays after the social network challenged the EU’s request for documents.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook competition lawyer Tim Lamb said the amount of documents the EU is looking for in the case are “exceptionally broad” in nature and would force the company to “turn over predominantly irrelevant documents that have nothing to do with the commission’s investigations”.

Facebook filed a legal challenge earlier this month, claiming that the documents it deems unnecessary for the antitrust case would reveal highly sensitive personal information. According to Lamb, this includes employees’ medical information, personal financial documents, and private information about family members of employees.

“We think such requests should be reviewed by the EU courts,” he said. A source familiar with the investigation said the EU requested Facebook to submit internal emails and documents related to approximately 2,500 specific search terms including ‘big question’, ‘shut down’ and ‘not good for us’.

The source claimed this would include personal communications from employees as well as security evaluations that would fall outside the scope of the investigation.

Zuckerberg goes to Washington

The EU said that it will “defend its case in court” as it continues its investigation into potential antitrust practices by Facebook. Facebook’s filings on the case have asked the court for interim measures that would prevent the EU from accessing data before its investigation.

In the US, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is to join some of the biggest names in tech appearing before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing later this week. In Facebook’s case, Zuckerberg is expected to defend its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram.

Zuckerberg is also reportedly set to argue the case that increasing regulation against the company and other big names in tech will hinder American companies and give Chinese competitors a major advantage.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic