Google, Facebook subject to new EU commission investigation over use of customer data

2nd December 2019 

The way in which the two companies use gathered data from its customers, in the course of building their respective advertising businesses, has become a major focus for regulators in Europe and America.

Google and Facebook’s advertising business has again been put in the spotlight by the European Commission as it probes how the two companies are using data.

On Monday, the Commission said it has launched preliminary investigations into how Google and Facebook gather, process, use and monetise data for advertising purposes.

The way in which the two companies use gathered data from its customers, in the course of building their respective advertising businesses, has become a major focus for regulators in Europe and America.

EU Commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, has been particularly vociferous in her concerns that large technology companies may use their data stores to stifle upstart rivals.

Ms Vestager has already opened an investigation into whether Amazon’s use of data from independent sellers breaches competition rules.

Reuters, which broke the story regarding a new EU investigation into Google, said that documents related to the case show the focus to be on data related to the company’s local search services, online advertising, online and targeting services, login services and web browsers.

A spokesperson for Google is quoted on CNN as saying the company uses "data to make our services more useful and to show relevant advertising, and we give people the controls to manage, delete or transfer their data."

"We will continue to engage with the Commission and others on this important discussion for our industry," the spokesperson added.

Facebook did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on Monday.

The EU has emerged as a major battleground for technology companies because of its stringent rules on data protection, hate speech, taxation and competition issues.

Last March, the European Commission slapped Google with a third antitrust fine, ordering it to pay €1.5bn for abusing its position in online search advertising. In total, it has been fined €8.2bn by Europe since 2017.


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