European Union fines Facebook £95m for 'misleading' WhatsApp data

Henrietta Strickland
May 20, 2017

The Commission's issue centers around the USA social networking giant linking Facebook accounts to WhatsApp user identities.

Facebook Accused of Misleading EU in WhatsApp Takeover ProbeThe European Commission on Thursday fined U.S. social media giant Facebook 110 million euros ($120 million) for providing incorrect and misleading information on its takeover of WhatsApp, imposing its biggest penalty for such a breach.

European Union official Margrethe Vestager added in a statement that the fine "sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of European Union merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information".

The Commission has recently stated that it is now looking into whether additional companies may have supplied incorrect or misleading information during recent merger control proceedings.

The fine is a sign European antitrust officials are increasing the level of scrutiny of Facebook and other leading tech firms in the market.

The European Commission said Facebook had informed its anti-trust body, in submissions ahead of the $19bn (£15.3bn) buyout, it would be unable to "establish reliable automated matching" between Facebook and WhatsApp user accounts.

The Commission's Euro 110 million fine on Facebook for breach of its procedural obligations under the European Union merger control rules underscores the need to submit full, accurate and reliable information during the Commission's merger control review process.

"It's just the beginning". "Several cases that will start coming", Gry Hasselbalch, co-founder of Data Ethics, told Al Jazeera.

"The more data you aggregate and the more detailed profile you can make on people, the more power you actually have".

However, in August 2016, the Californian business modified WhatsApp's confidentiality policy, resulting in the data collected with this application being used to suggest an ad for other group applications such as Facebook or Instagram. "This decision shows it is actually a problem". "Today's announcement brings this matter to a close". Facebook accepted the Commission's findings, waiving its right to access the file and request an oral hearing and opting to cooperate with the Commission's investigation.

In a prepared statement that Facebook posted on its website, the social media giant said it had acted in good faith during interactions it had with the EU. An intentional or negligent failure to do so will lead to draconian fines-even where the provision of incorrect or misleading information does not have an impact on the ultimate outcome of the Commission's decision.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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