Germany orders Facebook to change the way it gathers data

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.

Germany orders Facebook to change the way it gathers data – CNN


These iPhone apps secretly record your screen without permission

“Every tap, button push and keyboard entry is recorded — effectively screenshotted — and sent back to the app developers,” TechCrunch reports.

These iPhone apps secretly record your screen without permission


Regulators should study the Facebook Research incident

Facebook’s move to intentionally skirt Apple’s rules in order to spy on consumers’ mobile phone activities was “a particularly egregious abuse of power on Facebook’s behalf.”

…Facebook’s brouhaha with Apple seems to have begun with an app owned by the social-networking company called Onavo. That app offers a virtual private network, a way of cordoning off data from the general internet to protect users’ activities from being monitored. And that’s the way Facebook marketed it.

But Onavo was designed to allow Facebook itself to monitor everything users of the app were doing on their phones. And the data it provided reportedly gave the company crucial intelligence about emerging competitors, including WhatsApp, which Facebook later purchased, and Snapchat, whose features it copied.

…Like Onavo, Facebook Research offered a VPN that kept tabs on users’ phone activities. The social-networking company paid consumers as young as 13 to install the app so it could monitor what they were doing on their smartphones.

But instead of offering Facebook Research through the public App Store, Facebook got it out to users surreptitiously, having third-party companies offer it through a process Apple created to allow enterprises to distribute internal apps to their employees. The move was a clear violation of both the letter and spirit of Apple’s rules.

Regulators should study the Facebook Research indicident – Business Insider


Facebook, Google Draw Scrutiny Over Apps That Collected Data From Teens

In the latest revelation to raise privacy concerns about Silicon Valley’s tech titans, reports have surfaced that Facebook and Google offered adults and teens gift cards for installing apps that would let the companies collect data on their smartphones.

TechCrunch reported Tuesday that, since 2016, Facebook has been paying users — some as young as 13 years old — up to $20 a month to install an app called Facebook Research. The app could give Facebook access to private messages, photos, videos, emails, web searches and browsing activity, the tech news site reported.

…Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote on Twitter: “Wait a minute. Facebook PAID teenagers to install a surveillance device on their phones without telling them it gave Facebook power to spy on them? Some kids as young as 13. Are you serious? “

…This is not the first time Facebook has been accused of going to extreme lengths to get user data. In 2013, it bought a company called Onavo and allegedly used the Onavo app to get more information about WhatsApp, a competing messaging platform that Facebook ultimately bought for $19 billion.

Facebook, Google Draw Scrutiny Over Apps That Collected Data From Teens : NPR