Thursday

19th Jul 2018

Focus

EU fines Facebook €110 million for WhatsApp lie

  • In 2014, Facebook bought messaging service WhatsApp. (Photo: Luke Porter)

The European Commission handed out a €110 million fine to Facebook on Thursday (18 May) over providing misleading information about its acquisition of mobile chat programme WhatsApp.

EU commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, announced the decision via Twitter on Thursday morning, saying Facebook had given “wrong/misleading information” when it took over WhatsApp.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

Three years ago, Facebook bought WhatsApp, a messaging service.

As part of the commission's check whether mergers do not lead to situations that distort competition, Facebook told the commission that it was not able to link the accounts of Facebook users and WhatsApp users.

But that is precisely what the US company did last year.

Following that, the commission, the EU's executive arm in charge of investigating antitrust cases, opened a case against Facebook last December.

After six months, it concluded that Facebook had misled the EU.

"The commission has found that, contrary to Facebook's statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users' identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility," the commission said in a press release.

“We need accurate facts to do our job,” commissioner Vestager said on Thursday.

The fine is lower than the maximum fine, which is up to 1 percent of its annual turnover, or around €250 million. The commission called the fine "proportionate and deterrent".

The takeover itself will not be effected by the commission's decision.

It follows a €3 million fine given by Italy's antritust watchdog over allegedly forcing WhatsApp users to agree that their data be shared with Facebook, and €150,000 fine handed out by the French data protection authority over Facebook's changed privacy policy.

Facebook: it was not intentional

A Facebook spokesperson sent a statement to EUobserver on Thursday, saying the "errors we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional".

“We've acted in good faith since our very first interactions with the Commission and we've sought to provide accurate information at every turn," Facebook said.

Facebook censors Norway's PM

The US company is accused of censorship after it deleted an iconic Vietnam War photo and removed criticism it received over the decision. Norway's prime minister was not spared.

Column / Brussels Bytes

ECJ should rule against Austrian online censorship lawsuit

EU judges have an opportunity to make clear that no member state can decide what the rest of the world reads online, now that Austria's Supreme Court has referred the Glawischnig case to the European Court of Justice.

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson slams 'dithering' May in resignation speech
  2. EU border guards to be sent to Macedonia
  3. Juncker investment plan exceeds target
  4. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  5. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  6. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  7. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  8. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us