In future, Facebook will have to seek German users’ explicit consent to collect and combine such data. Germany’s Federal Cartel Office ordered Facebook to come up with proposals for how to do this. If it doesn’t comply, the regulator can impose fines of up to 10% of the company’s annual turnover, or roughly $5.5 billion in this case.
“We are carrying out what can be seen as an internal divestiture of Facebook’s data,” said Andreas Mundt, the president of the antitrust office. “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.”
…The case could have significant implications for Facebook, particularly if other antitrust regulators follow suit. Europe’s top antitrust regulator, the European Commission, said Thursday it took note of the German decision.
“Regulators are starting not just to show their teeth but to actually bite,” said Paul Bernal, a lecturer in media law at the University of East Anglia.
He said cases like this could eventually lead to regulators trying to break up Facebook because of the enormous control over data it has accumulated over the years.