Meta loses court case over EU antitrust documents request

25 May 2023

Image: © New Africa/

The documents were requested in 2020 as part of an antitrust investigation, but Meta argued the request was too broad and risked revealing sensitive personal information.

Meta has been struck another blow in the EU, failing to prevent a request for documents by the European Commission.

The European General Court ruled against Meta and dismissed the action “in its entirety”, adding that the company’s pleas “proved to be unfounded”.

The case related to a demand in 2020 made by the Commission for Meta to hand over documents for an antitrust investigation into the tech giant’s data use.

Meta filed a legal challenge the same year and claimed the request was “exceptionally broad” in nature and that the documents would reveal highly sensitive personal information.

In 2020, Facebook competition lawyer Tim Lamb argued that the sensitive data includes employees’ medical information, personal financial documents and private information about the family members of employees.

The European General Court rejected Meta’s claims that the search terms went beyond what was necessary.

“The fact that certain search terms may, as Meta Platforms Ireland submits, be too vague has no bearing on the fact that other search terms may be sufficiently precise or targeted to enable the finding – that they may help the Commission to determine whether an infringement of the competition rules has taken place – to be established,” the court said.

Meta can now appeal the verdict in the European Court of Justice. A company spokesperson said it is “considering its options” over the decision, Reuters reports.

The tech giant has taken some recent hits in Europe as a result of regulatory action. Meta was recently forced to sell Giphy to Shutterstock for a fraction of the amount it paid in 2020.

Meta also received a record GDPR fine of €1.2bn this week from Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, along with an order to suspend EU-US data transfers within five months.

This week Meta Ireland announced that it is letting go of about 490 workers, as part of 10,000 job cuts planned worldwide.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic