EU antitrust regulators are drawing up charges against Facebook parent Meta over its use of customer data and the tying of its classified advertisements service to its social network, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named. The European Commission, which can impose fines up to 10 percent of a company’s global turnover for antitrust violations, and Meta declined to comment.

The Commission began an investigation into the social network company in June last year. Britain’s competition agency also began an enquiry on the same day.

In recent months, the Commission has asked Meta rivals to remove confidential information from their submissions to the regulator. Typically, that is the precursor to the Commission sending companies under investigation a statement of objections detailing what it sees as anti-competitive practices.

Meta’s classified ads business called Facebook Marketplace was launched in 2016 and is used in 70 countries to buy and sell items.

Politico was the first to report a statement of objections is imminent.

On Tuesday, The European Commission said that EU regulators want broader rules defining companies’ market power, with more weight given to innovation and pointers on what digital markets are. The move was prompted in part by the growing power of tech giants.

The rules, known as the EU market definition notice, date back to 1997 and help regulators measure a company’s pricing power in a merger or its power to shut out rivals in an antitrust case.

The information can help regulators to decide whether to demand concessions from a company. Businesses and academics have in recent years criticised EU antitrust laws for being inadequate, especially in relation to US tech giants’ merger deals and market power.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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