Sunday

17th Dec 2017

Focus

EU wants to know if Facebook lied about Whatsapp

  • Did Mark Zuckerberg's company give false information to the European Commission? (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission said on Tuesday (20 December) it suspects that technology company Facebook has given “incorrect or misleading” information regarding its takeover of mobile application WhatsApp.

The Brussels-based EU executive has given the American company until 31 January 2017 to respond.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • If commissioner Vestager uses both Facebook and WhatsApp, her contact lists of the two accounts can be linked (Photo: European Commission)

The case relates to the commission's investigation into Facebook's acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.

At the time, Facebook said it was technologically not possible that the accounts of Facebook users and those of WhatsApp users would be linked.

Earlier this year, however, it emerged that WhatsApp would share its users' phone numbers with its parent company Facebook.

The question now is whether Facebook already knew in 2014 that this would be possible two years later.

The commission said in a press release that it took “the preliminary view that, contrary to Facebook's statements and reply during the merger review, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users' IDs with WhatsApp users' IDs already existed in 2014”.

If true, this means that Facebook had “intentionally, or negligently, submitted incorrect or misleading information” to Brussels.

The press release does not state if the commission would have reached a different conclusion on whether to allow the merger. Instead, the probe “is limited to the assessment of breaches of procedural rules”.

In a written statement, the EU commissioner in charge of mergers and competition cases, Danish politician Margrethe Vestager, stressed that companies are obliged to give the commission accurate information during merger investigations.

"They must take this obligation seriously," she said.

EU commission spokeswoman Lucia Caudet told journalists on Tuesday that the concerns are “preliminary”.

“We haven't come to a final conclusion,” she said.

Nevertheless, the accusation is now out there, with no legal deadline for the commission to finish such an investigation.

Facebook was not immediately available for a comment.

Feature

EU to analyse role of Facebook and Google

The EU will start an assessment into the role of online platforms. But the increased influence of internet companies has already been discussed by 'internet critics' for several years.

EU probes Amazon's e-book contracts

The European Commission is concerned that some clauses in Amazon's contracts with book publishers hinder competition.

Analysis

Suddenly, digital single market doesn't 'need' EU agency

EU digital commissioner Gabriel downplayed the rejection of the commission's plan for a strong EU telecommunications watchdog, highlighting that the elements of the digital single market are not set in stone.

Watchdogs concerned by EU-US data pact

European data protection authorities tell US to improve oversight on 'Privacy Shield' scheme, otherwise they would go to the EU's highest court.

Analysis

Suddenly, digital single market doesn't 'need' EU agency

EU digital commissioner Gabriel downplayed the rejection of the commission's plan for a strong EU telecommunications watchdog, highlighting that the elements of the digital single market are not set in stone.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states