Published On: Thu, May 18th, 2017

Facebook faces EU fine over misleading WhatsApp data: source

BRUSSELS: US social network Facebook is set to be penalised by EU antitrust regulators for allegedly providing misleading data related to its WhatsApp acquisition three years ago, a person familiar with the matter said.

The move by the European Commission will come after a six-month investigation and is expected to be a stiff warning to other companies facing similar issues.

The EU executive and Facebook declined to comment.

During regulatory scrutiny of the WhatsApp deal in 2014, Facebook told the EU competition enforcer it was unable reliably to match the two companies’ user accounts.

The Commission subsequently found that this was technically possible at the time.

Regulators met this week on the case and a decision could come either this week or next, the person said.

The Commission can fine a company as much as 1% of its global turnover, which in Facebook’s case could reach US$276mil (RM1.19bil) based on its 2016 revenue.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in March told a news conference that a small handful of companies may have provided misleading information when they sought approval for their mergers.

The EU sanction will come on the heels of a €150,000 (RM724,336) fine handed down by a French data watchdog to Facebook on May 16 for failing to prevent its users’ data being accessed by advertisers.

Italian antitrust authorities levied a €3mil (RM14.48mil) fine on WhatsApp last week for allegedly obliging users to agree to share their personal data with Facebook. — Reuters