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Germany tells Facebook to curb data gathering

Andreas Mundt, the president of Germany's Federal Cartel Office, speaks during a press conference on Facebook. Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd/AFP/Getty Images

Germany's competition regulator moved Thursday to ban Facebook from collecting certain types of consumer data without users' consent within the country, saying its data gathering was an "abuse" of its market power.

Why it matters: The decision isn't final but nonetheless represents the first major antitrust action against the social giant. It shows how questions about Facebook's dominance are tied to concerns about its users' privacy.

Details: The regulator said that Facebook couldn't associate data from accounts on WhatsApp or Instagram, which it owns, with accounts on its main platform unless a user agrees to it.

  • Users also have to agree to have data collected on them from third-party websites, the regulator said.
  • "With regard to Facebook's future data processing policy, we are carrying out what can be seen as an internal divestiture of Facebook's data," said Andreas Mundt, president of Germany's Federal Cartel Office, in a statement.

The other side: Facebook said it will appeal the decision, arguing that the German regulator "underestimates the fierce competition we face in Germany, misinterprets our compliance with GDPR and undermines the mechanisms European law provides for ensuring consistent data protection standards across the EU."

Go deeper: What Facebook knows about you