Frankfurt-based Litigation associate Dr. Jens Steger published his article on recent developments in German antitrust law regarding big data in the “Expert’s Corner” section of Handelsblatt, a leading German business newspaper.
The article analyzes the German Federal Cartel Office’s (FCO) investigation into Facebook, one of the world’s most visited social networks, for the potential breach of data protection laws on the basis of abuse of dominance. Steger notes that the FCO is the only competition agency with authority to investigate such a breach on the basis of abuse of dominance. As a result, Facebook’s sizable market position makes the FCO’s investigation a singular test case, especially if Facebook could have breached both German and European data protection laws by using terms and conditions that are possibly not in line with them.
Steger further notes that, despite the competition watchdog’s systematic approach and arguments regarding the investigation, several legal questions remain unanswered. For instance, German Federal Court had already decided in a past ruling that the use of inadmissible terms and conditions can be qualified as an abuse of dominance under German competition law. Steger concludes his article by pointing out that the FCO’s investigation appears to be moving more toward consumer protection law rather than pure competition law.
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