A PYMNTS Company

EU Court Adviser Says German Watchdog Can Probe Meta’s Data Violations

 |  September 20, 2022

In the latest blow to Facebook’s parent company Meta, an adviser to the European Union’s top court said Tuesday national competition regulators can investigate data protection complaints. 

Advocate General Athanasios Rantos wrote in a nonbinding opinion for the European Court of Justice that the German Federal Cartel Office, or the Bundeskartellamt, can asses whether the social media monolith complied with EU data privacy regulations. 

“The compliance or non-compliance of that conduct with the provisions of the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] … may be a vital clue as to whether that conduct entails resorting to methods prevailing under merit-based competition,” the Greek judge wrote. The 2018 law governs data protection and privacy in the EU. 

The case was referred to the Court of Justice by the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf after Meta appealed a 2019 order from the FCO to stop bundling information from its suite of apps, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, to sell to advertisers. 

“Access to data is a key competitive parameter not only in the advertising market, but also in the social network market. Facebook’s access to a significantly larger database further strengthens the already pronounced lock-in effects,” the agency said in a statement at the time.  

During hearings before the EU high court in the spring, Meta lawyers argued the FCO had overstepped its authority. 

“The Bundeskartellamt has openly undermined the substantive and procedural requirements of the GDPR legislation,” Meta’s lawyer Hans-Georg Kamann told the Luxembourg-based court. The company argued the FCO hadn’t properly consulted national data privacy authorities before moving forward with its investigation. 

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.