With stronger privacy laws and a suspicious attitude toward tech, European countries have long posed a challenge to Facebook. That was certainly the case once again this week when Germany’s federal court overturned a ruling that let Facebook off the hook for combining users’ personal data into so-called “super profiles.” Now, the company could be forced to stop pooling the data it collects through its services with the data it gathers tracking users across the Internet. Of course, that would mean a fundamental shift in the company’s entire business model.
Though it isn’t yet clear on how this ruling will affect Facebook in Germany, let alone around the world, experts say it could provide a groundbreaking precedent for regulators. The FCO, a German regulatory agency, is now free to continue its investigation into Facebook’s data-gathering, and it could enforce its ban on the social media giant’s practices.
“The decision is a spectacular success for the competition watchdog, and an important signal for competition on the internet,” German civil law expert Rupprecht Podszun told TechCrunch. “The FCO is attempting to tame the tech giants and to stop the build-up of economic power through integration of data to ‘super profiles’. Exploitation of users through data aggregation, as the FCO has accused Facebook of doing, has so far been uncharted territory.”
While Facebook is still an unprecedentedly powerful tech company, there are signs around the world that governments are beginning to rein it in and hold it accountable — and that’s a great thing for user privacy.
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