German cartel office probes Facebook

Frankfurt, March 2

Germany’s cartel office has opened an investigation into Facebook for suspected abuse of market power through breaches of data protection law, it said today.

The watchdog said Facebook’s terms of service regarding its use of user data may abuse its possibly dominant position in the social network market.

“For advertising-financed internet services such as Facebook, user data are hugely important. For this reason it is essential to also examine under the aspect of abuse of market power whether the consumers are sufficiently informed about the type and extent of data collected,” Federal Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt said in a statement.

Facebook, the world’s biggest social network with 1.6 billion monthly users, makes its money from targeted advertising, thanks to the data it gathers about its users’ friends, opinions and activities from their postings.

It has faced strong criticism from politicians and regulators in Germany, where data protection is strongly regulated, over its privacy practices.

Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited Berlin on a charm offensive last week.

A Facebook spokeswoman said today: “We are confident that we comply with the law and we look forward to working with Federal Cartel Office to answer their questions.”

FB exec jailed in Brazil

SAO PAULO: Brazilian police arrested a senior Facebook Inc (FB) executive on Tuesday as a dispute escalated over a court’s demand that the company provide data from its WhatsApp messaging service to help in a secretive drug-trafficking investigation. Court officials in Sergipe state confirmed that a judge had ordered the jailing of Facebook Vice President for Latin America Diego Dzodan. Federal police in Sao Paulo state said he was being held there for questioning. Law enforcement officials withheld further information about the nature of their request to the messaging service that Facebook Inc acquired in 2014, saying that doing so could compromise an ongoing criminal investigation. The arrest, which Facebook called an ‘extreme and disproportionate measure’, came as social media and internet companies face mounting pressure from governments around the world to help them eavesdrop on users and filter content.