Meta suffers EU setback against German antitrust rules
Meta accuses the German antitrust watchdog of overstepping its powers.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook on Tuesday, lost its appeal against German antitrust laws after the regulator received support from the court's senior counsel.
After the German government forbade Meta from linking user data from its numerous services, including Instagram and WhatsApp, to their Facebook accounts for advertising purposes, Meta filed a legal challenge.
The German Federal Competition Authority prohibited Meta from data processing after finding that it abused the company's dominant position in the social network market.
A court in Düsseldorf received a challenge from Facebook regarding the German ruling and forwarded the matter to the European court.
The Russian segment of Instagram, which is banned in #Russia, has lost about 48% of users since the start of the war in #Ukraine, with the number of daily publications having dropped by 46%, a Brand Analytics report showed on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/kFJyugixf4— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) April 10, 2022
The EU court's advocate general said on Tuesday that while the antitrust authority does not have the jurisdiction to rule on an infringement of data protection rules, compliance with such rules could be taken as an "important indicator" in ascertaining if an entity has breached competition rules.
The court advisor also noted that a ban on processing sensitive personal data, such as an individual's ethnic origin, health, or sexual orientation, could apply in this case.
To be exempted, the prohibition concerning such data "must be fully aware that, by an explicit act, he is making personal data public."
The advocate general added that the "conduct consisting in visiting websites and apps, entering data into those websites and apps and clicking on buttons integrated into them cannot, in principle, be regarded in the same way as conduct that manifestly makes public the user's sensitive personal data."
The advocate general's opinion is non-binding, but it often indicates which way the court will rule.