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German antitrust watchdog to act against Facebook: report

SCI & TECH
By Reuters | January 14th 2019
Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo. [Photo: Reuters]

BERLIN - Germany’s antitrust watchdog plans to order Facebook to stop gathering some user data, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Federal Cartel Office, which has been investigating Facebook since 2015, has already found that the social media giant abused its market dominance to gather data on people without their knowledge or consent.

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper said the watchdog will present the U.S. company with its ruling on what action it needs to take in the next few weeks.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company disputes the watchdog’s findings and will continue to defend this position.

The investigation is being closely watched amid mounting concerns over leaks of data on tens of millions of Facebook users, as well as the use of social media by foreign powers seeking to influence elections in the United States.

The German watchdog objects in particular to how Facebook acquires data on people from third-party apps - including its own WhatsApp and Instagram services as well as games and websites - and its tracking of people who are not members.

The paper said it is still not clear how strictly Facebook will have to comply with the German order, noting that the watchdog looks likely to set a deadline for compliance rather than insisting on immediate action.

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