German regulators want to restrict Facebook’s data collection

14 Jan 2019

Facebook app on tablet. Image: everstruslan/Depositphotos 

Germany’s efforts to regulate how Facebook collects data may ramp up in the near future.

The collection of user data on major platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and others has been a major issue over the last number of months. GDPR enforcement has also increased public knowledge of data collection and the value of the average citizen’s data.

Although many people are only becoming aware of such practices now, certain governments have been aiming to regulate internet companies for some time, particularly in the EU.

Germany has strong regulatory standpoint

Germany has been a major proponent of such digital regulation. In 2017, the country passed a contentious law combating hate speech on social media, requiring platforms to monitor for offensive content and remove it within a strict time window.

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is now set to target the data collection processes of Facebook, according to German paper Bild am Sonntag. On 13 January, the newspaper reported that the German regulatory body is seeking to halt some of Facebook’s data collection, primarily relating to third-party apps.

The regulator is also concerned with how the company tracks internet users that are not members of the gargantuan social network. Last year, reports showed that Facebook had provided access to large volumes of user data to third-party companies such as Spotify and Netflix.

Deadline for enforcing regulation

Bild am Sonntag said that Germany is likely to set a deadline for reform as opposed to demanding immediate changes, so Facebook would have some time to ensure it complied with the country’s requests.

A representative for the company told the newspaper that Facebook disagrees with the Federal Cartel Office and would continue to defend this position as things proceed. The office has been examining Facebook’s practices since 2015 and has already found that the company abused its market dominance to gather data on people without their consent or knowledge.

Given that GDPR is still not yet a year in place, it is likely we will see similar scenarios to this one play out, particularly in a European context. The legislation may be there, but the enforcement of GDPR has not really begun in earnest. Expect to see more corporations duking it out with national and pan-EU regulators over the next while.

Facebook app on tablet. Image: everstruslan/Depositphotos 

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects