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Germany tweaks rules to curb Meta's anti-competitive practices more effectively

Germany tweaks rules to curb Meta's anti-competitive practices more effectively
Photo Credit: Pixabay
5 May, 2022
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Facebook parent Meta Platforms is expected to face more regulatory backlash in Europe due to a change in rules by German regulator Federal Cartel Office (FCO) or Bundeskartellamt.

The German regulator said under the new provision in Section 19a of the German Competition Act, it has labeled Meta Platforms as a company of “paramount significance for competition across markets.” The classification gives the German regulator more power to “intervene earlier and more effectively” against any anti-competitive practices of big tech companies such as Meta.  

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, explained, “Our investigations have shown that Meta is of paramount significance across markets, also within the meaning of competition law. Following a proceeding which was contested for some time, we have now formally proven the company’s relevant position."

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"Based on this, we are able to intervene against potential competition infringements more efficiently than with the toolkit available to us so far," he added.

According to Mundt, Meta has waived the right to appeal the regulator's decision.

The regulator said that the validity of the decision is five years after its implementation.

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Also read: Meta is allowing researchers to dissect its new GPT-3 based language model

The German regulator has tried to curb Meta's dominant position on several occasions in the past. In February 2019, it asked Meta to stop forcing it's users to agree to unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts.

In December 2020, the regulator started a probe into Meta's decision to link Quest (formerly Oculus) VR headsets with Facebook. 

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Meta is one of the leading social media companies with several social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp under it. 

Meta’s services are used by more than 3.5 billion people, claimed the German regulator. 

Advertising accounted for 97.9% of Facebook’s global revenue in 2020, as per Statista.

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Meta has been pulled up by regulators in Europe for various anti-competitive practices and other violations with regard to user data. 

In March, a data regulator in Ireland slapped Meta with a fine of 17 million Euros for poor data recording practices. 

Meta on its part has threatened to pull out its services including Facebook and Instagram if it's restricted from sharing data between its products and services and different regions. 

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Last month, the EU also passed the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to make social networks interoperable. Lawmakers in the EU also reached an agreement over another law called Digital Services Act (DSA) to make online platforms more accountable and curb illegal and harmful content.