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Facebook is the latest tech giant to face a European antitrust investigation

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on March 2, 2016

From The Legal Affairs Desk

Germany's antitrust regulator, the Bundeskartellamt, has confirmed it is investigating Facebook for absuing its dominance in the country. 

In a statement, the regulator said:

The authority is investigating suspicions that with its specific terms of service on the use of user data, Facebook has abused its possibly dominant position in the market for social networks.

There is an initial suspicion that Facebook's conditions of use are in violation of data protection provisions. Not every law infringement on the part of a dominant company is also relevant under competition law. However, in the case in question Facebook’s use of unlawful terms and conditions could represent an abusive imposition of unfair conditions on users. The Bundeskartellamt will examine, among other issues, to what extent a connection exists between the possibly dominant position of the company and the use of such clauses.

Facebook is just the latest US tech giant to face scruitiny in Europe. Both Microsoft and Google have been the subject of EU-wide antitrust investigations into abuse of their market share. Right now, the investigation into Facebook is confined to Germany but the regulator's statement included a hint that might change:

The Bundeskartellamt is conducting the proceeding in close contact with the competent data protection officers, consumer protection associations as well as the European Commission and the competition authorities of the other EU Member States.

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