Meta hit with antitrust breach order in Turkey for combining user data across Fb, WhatsApp, Instagram • TechCrunch


Meta will not falter in the size of the penalty just handed over by the Turkish Competition Authority, which today announced a penalty of 346.72 million liras.

The fine of about $18.6 million pales in comparison to a number of stings recently struck by European regulators. Like the 267 million dollars fine on WhatsApp in the European Union A little over a year ago – for transparency violations of the data protection framework in the block; or the 70 million dollars gracefully a year ago from the UK Competition Authority after it said Meta had failed to comply with information requests during its scrutiny of its purchase of Giphy. was later He was ordered by the British Financial Market Authority to back out of this acquisition as wellUnfortunately, the full story will likely cost her a lot more.

There are still plenty of data protection complaints hanging over her head as well, such as those targeting data flows between the European Union and the United States. You can see an order suspending these transfers – and essentially shutting down its service in Europe – in the coming months unless a A looming alternative to the defunct Privacy Shield It can be rushed into place first.

However, the gist of the Turkish fine – that Meta occupies a dominant position in social media and has sought to stymie competitors by combining data between the separate services it runs – will likely send the social networking giant’s backbone cold as its business operates on people profiling. This depends on its ability to capture people’s data and flesh out detailed advertising profiles. So any regulatory roadblocks that reduce its ability to conduct its unrestricted monitoring of Internet users pose an existential threat to the underlying microtargeting advertising model.

The Turkish action is also noteworthy because the German competition regulator has had similar concerns for years.

It began investigating Facebook’s “super personalization” all the way back in March 2016 – and went on to confirm the discovery of abuse in February 2019 order Which concluded that the company’s burglary of user privacy amounts to an “abuse” and a violation of its dominant position in social networks. Hence, the German Foreign Ministry ordered Facebook to stop merging data on users of different products. But Meta has resumed and an enforcement battle over the previous German order to separate the data continues.

It was attractive Referred to the Supreme Court of the block In March 2021 and still awaiting judgment (most likely next year). But an opinion from an influential advisor at CJEU Last month He preferred allowing antitrust authorities to consider data protection compliance as part of their assessment of competition rules – which, if the court followed the AG’s view, would be bad news for Meta across the EU, as it would open the door to more competition watchdogs taking the “big picture” unfair The separate, comprehensive look at what to do when assessing any antitrust concerns.

So, there’s a growing sense that international regulators are getting closer – gradually and relentlessly – to Meta’s legacy of moving fast and breaking things (or, it seems, to better describe it). The method of workcollect and aggregate all data into a huge data lake beyond the reach of any user control, per Leaked internal documents).

“By combining the data collected by [Meta] from the services of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp … degrades competition by making it difficult for competitors with personal social networking services to operate in online advertising markets and creates barriers to market entry”, Turkish Competition Authority wrote in resolution It was published today – after the investigation was completed – and explained its decision to impose an administrative fine [the decision text is in Turkish; we’ve translated it here using machine translation].

The commission’s investigation began last year after a Controversial change to WhatsApp terms and conditions caused to Big reaction to privacy around the world. And the Consumer regulators in Europe remain concerned About terms and conditions that are confusing to consumers. So there could be more enforcement in the tube on that front as well. (In addition to the massive ‘transparency’ fine in the aforementioned GDPR – and possibly more GDPR enforcement action on the backlog of complaints still being considered by the EU tech giant’s leading data protection regulator.) )

The Turkish Competition Authority unanimously found Meta to occupy a dominant position in the social media market and unanimously concluded that its conduct amounted to a violation of local competition law.

In addition to issuing a fine, the tech giant has been ordered to halt the breach – and establish “effective market competition” – with a one-month deadline to notify the authority of steps it will take to do so; And a maximum of six months (from today’s decision) to implement the procedures after approval.

Meta has also been instructed to inform the regulator of its actions for a period of five years.

The tech giant has been contacted for comment on the Turkish authority’s sanctions. A Meta spokesperson emailed this short line – but didn’t confirm whether or not to file an objection:

“We disagree with the findings of the Turkish Competition Authority. We protect our users’ privacy and provide people with transparency and control over their data. We will consider all of our options.”

One thing is clear: Meta is facing costly regulatory incursions on multiple fronts — which threaten its ability to capture the world’s attention. Ignoring privacy laws; threatens his ability to do so By way of acquiring/absorbing other companies to grab data in this way (as well as threatens her ability to me Data is collected across separate services you already own); and jeopardizing her ability to try to evade this inherited organizational computation by moving her business to where she thinks the disk is headed (also known as the “metaverse”) – by Preventing its ability to use its market power to buy VR startups which is seeing nascent success (in what may, however, be an overkill for Steam shows).

Add to that, increasing interconnected organizational thinking will only deepen these incursions.

Take a look at Apple’s recent resilience against the scourge of smartphone apps that are silently, without consent, being reused as the tentacles of surveillance ads (aka. Application tracking transparency); and a wide range of incoming legislation (eg EU legislation Digital Markets Law And the Digital Services Law) will further tighten the ad giants’ room for maneuver – and it certainly looks like Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg will have more reason than most humans to wear VR glasses and float around in search of some digital escape for years to come…

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