Potential overreach by European Commission investigators has won Facebook a breather from an intensifying probe by the powerful regulator into alleged unfair competitive practices by Big Tech.
The EU General Court has put the kibosh on attempts by EU Commission regulators to force Facebook to turn over massive amounts of data, a trove the social media giant contends includes “highly sensitive” information about employee medical records and the personal finances of family members,” Bloomberg reported Tuesday (July 28).
Irked by the commission’s data demands, Facebook had filed suit against the European Commission on July 15.
“We think such requests should be reviewed by the EU courts,” Tim Lamb, a Facebook lawyer, told Bloomberg.
In its July 24 ruling, the EU General Court fell short of placing such personal medical and financial information off limits to investigators.
However, the president of the court, Marc van der Woude, ordered a temporary halt in order to review the protections the European Commission has in place to prevent privacy violations as it digs into Facebook’s records.
The court’s president noted that while the probe “may unavoidably include personal information,” the commission is also obligated to “ensure that confidential treatment of such information is safeguarded, especially when the information does, at first sight, not appear to have any link with the subject matter of the commission’s investigation,” the news service reported.
The court ruling is the latest skirmish in a battle that began last summer when EU Commission investigators began reviewing how Facebook uses the data it collects from its apps and the social media company’ sales platform.
It is part of a broader probe by the EU into potentially anti-competitive practices by Silicon Valley, with regulators also examining Apple’s app store and how Amazon collects data from retailers. Overall, EU regulators are interested in whether the Big Tech players are using their dominant market positions — and their access and control of market data — to prevent other smaller players from effectively competing.