Jun 24, 2020 - Technology

Facebook ordered to stop harvesting user data by Germany's top court

Illustration of a gavel bearing down on Facebook's "f" logo

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Germany's top court ruled Tuesday that Facebook abused its market power by illegally harvesting user data in the country, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The case against Facebook, pushed forward by Germany's competition regulator last year, represents one of the first major antitrust actions against Facebook.

What's next: The court has mandated that people should be able to prevent their Facebook data from being associated with WhatsApp and Instagram accounts, outside websites and third-party apps without their consent, as Germany's antitrust watchdog argued last year.

  • Facebook says it has 14 months to work with Germany's antitrust watchdog to hammer out technical details for the court's mandate, as the company's appeal of the competition regulator continues.
  • Meanwhile, the campaign to get advertisers to halt spending on Facebook continues to gain steam. The New York Times reports that Eddie Bauer, Ben & Jerry’s and Magnolia Pictures are all suspending ads on the platform.

Yes, but: Tuesday's decision "may not be the last word," the Times' Adam Satariano writes, since Germany's lower court could possibly rule in Facebook’s favor.

What they're saying: “Today’s decision relates to the preliminary proceedings on the Court’s stay order," Facebook said in a statement on Tuesday. "The main proceedings, before the Court of Appeals, are ongoing and we will continue to defend our position that there is no antitrust abuse. There will be no immediate changes for people or businesses who use our products and services in Germany."

Go deeper: Germany tells Facebook to curb data gathering

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add information from Facebook on the next steps the company faces to address the ruling.

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