Germany’s Competition Agency Cracks Down On Facebook: But Is Antitrust The Right Tool For The Job?

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Professor Mark Patterson was interviewed by Forbes regarding privacy concerns involving Facebook’s data practices.

In February 2019, the German competition regulator, Bundeskartellamt, imposed restrictions on how Facebook may process and combine its users’ data. Assigning WhatsApp, Instagram, and third-party data to Facebook user accounts will no longer by possible without a Facebook user’s voluntary consent. Importantly, the agency characterized the “extent to which Facebook collects, merges and uses data in user accounts” as an “abuse of a dominant position,” and it characterized Facebook’s conduct as an “exploitative abuse.”
What is the significance of consumer ignorance in regard to data practices? Is Facebook’s exploitative conduct a competition problem or a consumer protection problem? Because the Facebook decision was about exploitative practices, what relevance does it have for the United States, where exclusionary conduct is required for monopolization liability?
To answer those questions, we invited to a Bytes Chat John Newman, a professor at University of Memphis Law School; Mark Patterson, a professor at Fordham School of Law; and Sally Hubbard, director of enforcement strategy at Open Markets Institute. The Chat was moderated by Hal Singer, editor of Washington Bytes and Senior Fellow of the George Washington Institute of Public Policy.
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