UK Competition Watchdog Begins Facebook Probe Over Data Usage

Facebook Probe

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Britain’s antitrust watchdog, is planning an investigation into how Facebook handles user data, the Financial Times (FT) reported on Friday (March 19), citing sources.

The CMA’s investigation into Facebook follows similar competition probes into Google and Apple earlier this month. The U.K. competition custodian is looking into allegations that Facebook tapped user data to sidestep rivals in social media and digital advertising.

The U.K. probe is similar to the investigation launched by Brussels into how the Silicon Valley social media giant runs its Marketplace portal. Britain’s probe will also include Facebook’s Marketplace policies. The official announcement of the CMA’s investigation and its components are subject to change, the sources told FT. The inspection is said to stem from the CMA’s digital advertising report that indicated Facebook benefited from a “strong incumbency advantage,” per the report.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, said in February that tech companies like Google and Facebook would be slapped with several competition investigations. He also said he will collaborate with Brussels

A general crackdown on Big Tech is also being launched via the competition authority’s new digital regulation division, the Digital Markets Unit (DMU). The DMU, which will be enacted by legislation, will be tasked with creating and enforcing codes of conduct for Big Tech companies.

Facing numerous competition lawsuits in the U.S. by state attorneys general in almost all 50 states as well as by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Facebook made a move last week to have the legal proceedings dismissed. The FTC and the States are expected to answer the motions in April.

The European Commission’s initial draft in January of the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act outlined the framework for the entities, which would be in charge of overseeing technology firms’ content and commerce protocols.