EU fines Facebook over misleading information

EU fines Facebook over misleading information

The European Commission has fined Facebook €110 million for providing incorrect or misleading information during the Commission's 2014 investigation under the EU Merger Regulation of Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp.

Facebook said the announcement of the fine "brings this matter to a close".

"However, in August 2016, WhatsApp announced updates to its terms of service and privacy policy, including the possibility of linking WhatsApp users' phone numbers with Facebook users' identities", it said.

Facebook, in a statement, claimed that errors made at the time were not intentional, highlighting that the commission had confirmed that the statements had not impacted the outcome of the merger inquiry, the report added.

Even though the fine won't have such a great impact on Facebook and WhatsApp, it will surely set an example for the company to be careful with the privacy of user's data in the future.

The European Commission, which acts as the EU's competition watchdog, said it had imposed a "proportionate and deterrent fine" on the technology company to send a clear signal that all firms must comply with EU competition rules.

"The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers' effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts".

In 2002, a European energy company was fined Euro 35.000 for omitting to disclose important co-operation arrangements and to identify affected markets, and because it had provided misleading information on the competitive situation on other markets.

Commission rules suggest the social network could have been fined up to 1% of its turnover - a figure that would have been at least twice the amount it has been told to pay.

In its statement on Thursday, the Commission recalled that the merger rules require companies to provide regulators with the accurate information essential to any review. The Commission has taken Facebook's cooperation into account in setting the level of the fine.

In 1999, a German postal operator was fined Euro 100.000 for supplying incorrect and misleading information in a notification and inaccurate information in response to a request for information (RFI). Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said the fine was less than it could have been because Facebook cooperated.

In the US, privacy advocates Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy asked the FTC to intervene in Facebook's plan to merge data about users with WhatsApp.