Exclusive German Anti-Trust Office to Investigate Facebook Over Privacy

Germany’s anti-trust office has launched an investigation into Facebook over whether it violates data protection rules and abuses its dominant position in social networking by forcing customers to permit the collection of “a large amount of personal user data.” “It is difficult for users to understand and assess the scope of the agreement accepted by them,” Germany’s anti-trust office said in a statement on Wednesday. “There is considerable doubt as to the admissibility of this procedure, in particular under applicable national data protection laws.” Germany has some of the strictest rules on privacy and data protection, partly as a result of its history of surveillance through dictatorships by the Stasi and the Nazis, who relied on data registries to sort and murder millions of Jews and others during the Holocaust. Facebook has become the target of many privacy campaigners here, prompting the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to visit Berlin last week in a bid to assuage some of the country’s concerns. The anti-trust office in its statement said it was working with other E.U. anti-trust authorities and suggested Facebook may be taking advantage of its virtual monopoly over social media content. “The authority is investigating suspicions that with its specific terms of service on the use of user data, Facebook has abused its possibly dominant position in the market for social networks,” the anti-trust office said. The authority said it is conducting its proceeding “in close contact with the competent data protection officers, consumer protection associations as well as the European Commission and the competition authorities of the other E.U. member states.”   Picture Source: AP