EU court verdict goes against Meta about antitrust crackdown on data

Onur Demirkol
Jul 5, 2023

Meta lost its legal battle in the European Union against a German antitrust ruling targeting its ability to profit from a massive user data cache.

When Germany's Federal Cartel Office ordered Facebook to change the way it records its users' smartphone and web usage in 2019, the EU's Court of Justice determined that the German agency had not overstepped its authority. The action came after a ground-breaking antitrust investigation that also examined Facebook's alleged breaches of the stringent data privacy laws of the EU.

Meta is under investigation by both the national and European Commission for possible violations of antitrust laws as well as possible violations of data protection laws. Meta was given a deadline to stop sending users' data to the US and was slammed with a record €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) EU privacy punishment in May after authorities found that the company had not adequately protected users' personal information from American security agencies.

“The judgment will have far-reaching effects on the business models of the data economy. Data is a decisive factor in establishing market power. The use of personal data of consumers by large internet companies can be abusive under antitrust law," said Andreas Mundt, head of the Federal Cartel Office.


"We are evaluating"

Meta uses the popular Big Tech business model of behavioral advertising to collect user data. The finding was contested by Meta, the owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which prompted a German court to consult the CJEU.

A Meta representative responded to the verdict by stating, "We are evaluating the Court's decision and will have more to say in due course." The court held that when determining whether cyber behemoths are abusing their market dominance by shutting out rivals, antitrust regulators may consider any violations of data privacy laws.

The court's decision on Tuesday, in particular, provides authorities in the European Union with a more solid legal foundation to evaluate how data-collection activities may harm competition, which is a new focus for antitrust enforcement.

The court said that authorities looking into antitrust issues may also check to see if a corporation is violating the General Data Protection Regulation, generally known as the G.D.P.R., which is the EU's data protection statute.


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  1. Anonymous said on July 5, 2023 at 6:54 pm

    The main problem here is the data being used nefariously, not who uses it as such. However the good point is that Facebook not being in EU, the European imperialists hating on them won’t be able to profit from the data just from it not being sent to USA. But one has to be aware that “data sovereignty” is not the goal and not an activism topic in itself. I see non corrupt organizations tending to fall for that already.

    Facebook happens to also be under EU fire for how they use the data, which is already more directly the concern. Basically they massively and obviously break the privacy laws as their main activity and for some reason (usual bribery) they’re still in business.

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