"In future, Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts", said Andreas Mundt, President of the FCO.
It said many users were not aware that Facebook is now able to "collect an nearly unlimited amount of any type of user data from third-party sources", which allows it to better target specific advertisements to specific user's interests.
Germany's competition watchdog is set to rule Thursday on whether Facebook abused its dominant position in social media to collect excessive data and could even ban the site's "Like" buttons from other webpages.
This stunning verdict by the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) also means that Facebook's business model, which is based on amassing massive amounts of user information, is also illegal and must be changed.
The FCO has ordered Facebook to terminate its current practices and only collect and combine data gathered from outside Facebook if German-based users have given their "voluntary consent". In addition to inviting community group leaders to the summit, Facebook for the first time this year also invited leaders of local business and nonprofit groups.
'Using information across our services also helps us protect people's safety and security, including, for example, identifying abusive behavior and disabling accounts tied to terrorism, child exploitation and election interference across both Facebook and Instagram, ' Facebook said.
While the new orders concern user privacy, the body is actually instituting its terms because they say the way Facebook has consolidated user information across websites and social platforms has given them an unfair competitive advantage.
The letters come one week after TechCrunch reported that Facebook, through its Project Atlas program, was paying people between the ages of 13 and 35 to download the Facebook Research VPN, which allowed Facebook access to all mobile and web data.
The German antitrust regulator's powers were expanded in 2017 to include consumer protection in public-interest cases where it could argue that a company - such as Facebook - had so little competition that consumers lack any effective choice.
The office's probe began three years ago, amidst pressure on European governments to show that they are capable of standing up to large foreign internet companies, which are seen by many as competing unfairly in European markets while paying minimal tax in the EU.
While Facebook is less widely used in Germany than in some other western countries, it has 32 million monthly active users in a population of 83 million and controls more than 95 per cent of the country's social media. In... Tellingly, the company didn't mention how numerous 40 percent of non-Facebook users had installed Instagram or WhatsApp and glossed over the ubiquity of its "like" and "share" buttons entirely. It also claimed the regulator was "trying to "implement an unconventional standard for a single company".
The regulator said this is against European Union data protection laws.
"Facebook should unify its privacy protections for its operations globally". Users must agree to the terms or be excluded from the social network, a hard situation that can not be considered voluntary consent, as required under the law. Facebook on its blog has announced its disagreement with the Bundeskartellamt. Facebook is becoming more and more indispensable for advertising customers.
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