Germany’s Federal Cartel Office told Facebook it must rectify how it collects user data or potentially face a fine, director Andreas Mundt said in an interview to Rheinische Post.
The regulator is concerned Facebook is abusing its dominant position, which includes using third party apps to gather personal information on users without their consent.
It has given Facebook time to respond to these allegations and come up with a way to fix the issue, or the office will prohibit it from collecting data in this manner, and may also sanction the tech giant. It will make a decision early this year.
“We will announce a decision on Facebook in early 2019. We think that Facebook dominates the relevant market. We investigated whether… through the way data is collected and used, Facebook abuses its market power to the detriment of customers,” he stated.
He added the Cartel Office is going after Facebook because, although it is a free service, it is not a “charitable” organisation as users pay through their data, often without realising it.
Facebook has argued in the past its European headquarters are in Ireland, but the Cartel Office believes that since the social media company has a German unit, the country’s antitrust laws can apply to it.
Meanwhile news emerged earlier this week Austria will press ahead with a tax on large technology companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon, in a move that follows in the footsteps of France.
“It is only fair that internet giants in Europe pay a proper amount of tax. In addition to an EU-wide move, we’ll also act on a national level. We will introduce a digital tax in Austria,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.