European Union (EU) investigators are ramping up their antitrust inquiry into Facebook’s data practices, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The EU’s investigators have been requesting “documents related to allegations by rival companies and politicians that Facebook leveraged access to its users’ data to stifle competition, rewarding partners and cutting off rivals, those people said.”
One such example stems from how Facebook used VPN provider Onavo, which the company purchased in 2013. The WSJ reported in 2018 that Onavo was passing information about its users’ habits to Facebook, essentially serving as an early warning system for the social media giant. By providing information on what rival apps Onavo customers were using, Facebook could take action before those apps became a threat to Facebook’s business.
According to the WSJ, the EU used a “law that allows for daily fines to punish noncompliance,” when requesting documents about how Facebook manages access to its user data. By using that law, the EU is tipping its hand that it doesn’t trust Facebook to comply with its requests unless it’s forced to do so. At the same time, by focusing on how Facebook manages data access, the EU’s investigation seems to be centering around these allegations of anticompetitive behavior.
We will continue to provide updates as the story develops.