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German Reg To Halt Facebook User Data Collection

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Germany’s antitrust watchdog plans to stop Facebook from gathering some user data after its investigation found that the social media giant has been collecting information without people’s knowledge or consent.

According to Reuters, a German paper reported that the Federal Cartel Office will reportedly present its ruling to Facebook within the next few weeks. The agency specifically has issues with how the company gathers data from third-party apps, including its own WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as games and websites. In addition, the German agency objects to the company’s tracking of people who are not even members of the site.

A company spokeswoman said Facebook disputes the agency’s findings and plans to defend itself.

The Federal Cartel Office has been investigating Facebook since 2015, before it was revealed that now defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the data on 87 million Facebook users without their consent. That scandal is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department and the FBI.

Aside from its issues in the U.S., Facebook was also hit with a $644,600 fine in the U.K. after it was found that an estimated 1 million residents were affected by the scandal. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled that the company was engaged in “serious breaches of data protection.” Facebook has said that it plans to appeal the fine.

“Facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data,” said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham at the time. “A company of its size and expertise should have known better, and it should have done better.”

In addition, the company could face billions in possible fines in Europe after a data breach that impacted about 50 million user accounts. If Facebook is found to have breached the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by not protecting user data, the fines could reach around $1.6 billion.

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