In Germany, Facebook may not continue to collect data from users who have not given their consent. The court in Düsseldorf gave the green light to this in August, but the Bundesgerichtshof will stop this Tuesday - as the highest instance in German case law.
The tug-of-war around Facebook dates back to a decision made by the German cartel watchdog, the Bundeskartellamt. He ruled in February 2019 after an investigation of almost three years that Facebook abuses its dominant position.
According to the Bundeskartellamt, the company does this by collecting unsolicited data from Facebook users, for example via likes buttons on other websites. The fact that Facebook links data from Instagram and WhatsApp to Facebook accounts is also not a good idea.
The Bundeskartellamt instructed Facebook to explicitly ask users for permission to link Instagram and WhatsApp data to Facebook profiles. If users do not agree, the company may only use the collected data for the service on which it was collected.
The company should also request permission to link data that the company collects on other websites to Facebook accounts. In addition to like buttons, this also happens with Facebook login buttons and an invisible piece of code.
Bundesgerichtshof now turns back green after objection
Facebook subsequently filed an objection with the Oberlandesgericht in Düsseldorf. In August, he announced that he had doubts about the legitimacy of the decision of the Bundeskartellamt. Facebook was given the green light to - at least until a final decision by the court - not comply with the imposed requirements of the cartel watchdog.
The Bundesgerichtshof is now reversing that decision. That means that the Bundeskartellamt can enforce the demands that the watchdog imposed on Facebook in 2019. The chairman of the Bundeskartellamt said via Twitter that he was "pleased" with this opinion.
The decision, according to Facebook, "has no direct effect on people or companies using our products and services in Germany."
The case at the Oberlandesgericht in Düsseldorf is still ongoing. Facebook wants to convince the court that the company does not abuse its market position. In the meantime, the company has also announced that it will inextricably integrate Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.