Berlin (AFP)

The highest German court ordered Facebook Tuesday to stop collecting data automatically and without specific agreement from individuals of its applications like Whatsapp or Instagram, inflicting a serious setback on the American giant.

"There is no doubt about the dominant position of Facebook on the social media market as well as the use of this dominant position," argued the German Federal Court to justify its interim judgment.

The latter confirms a decision of the national competition authority against the American internet giant made last year.

Facebook had then filed an appeal against the German anti-cartel office before a court which had ruled in its favor. The decision of the highest court, which has yet to be rendered on the merits, overturns the court's judgment and inflicts defeat on the American group.

"Facebook does not allow any choice," said President of the Federal Court Peter Meier-Beck.

The decision applies with immediate effect to Facebook, which must review its contractual clauses.

German justice accuses Facebook of abusing its dominant position by imposing unfair contractual clauses on its users of the various platforms.

German authorities require Facebook to seek "explicit agreement" from its 30 million users in the country on certain clauses.

The competition authority wants in particular that the group asks its users beforehand before attaching to their Facebook account the data obtained via applications belonging to it, such as Instagram and Whatsapp, or thanks to the "Like" button inserted on third party internet pages.

Its president Andreas Mundt welcomed the decision of the highest court in the country.

"Private data is a decisive instrument of economic power and place on the internet market" of large groups, he said, "when data is illegally collected intervention by the competition authority must be possible ".

Facebook has so far disputed German demands, saying it has no dominant position against its competitors like Twitter or Snapchat.

The group also believed that it had sufficiently changed its confidentiality parameters, with their compliance with the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

© 2020 AFP