The antitrust regulators arm of the European Union has slapped Facebook with a €110 million fine on Thursday for giving misleading information the vetting of its WhatsApp acquisition deal in 2014.
The fine is however, it’s 700 times greater than what the fine charged by the French data protection authority, CNIL, on Tuesday this week for actual breaches of privacy law involving such activity matching.
The EU’s competition watchdog Calling it a “proportionate and deterrent fine”, this is because Facebok had disclosed that it could not automatically match user accounts on its namesake platform and WhatsApp yet two years later launched a service that did exactly that.
“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 statement, Facebook has said that errors made in its 2014 filings were not intentional and that the commission had confirmed they had not affected the outcome of the merger review.
“Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close,” Facebook said.
The €110 million (US$123 million) fine is much lesser however as the commission could have fined Facebook up to 1 per cent of its turnover – which would have been $276 million (€248 million) based on 2016 results.
The Italian antitrust authorities had last week levied a €3 million fine on WhatsApp for allegedly obliging users to agree to share their personal data with Facebook.