German court suspends restrictions on Facebook data gathering

FILE PHOTO: A 3-D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed binary code in this illustration picture, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

FILE PHOTO: A 3-D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed binary code in this illustration picture, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

BERLIN (Reuters) – A German court on Monday temporarily suspended a February decision by the cartel office to order Facebook (FB.O) to restrict its data collection practices in Germany.

“The suspension of the order means that Facebook does not have to implement the decision of the Federal Cartel Office for the time being,” the Higher Regional Court in Duesseldorf said in its ruling.

Facebook appealed the landmark decision by the cartel office that the world’s largest social network abused its market dominance to gather information about users without their consent. It ordered Facebook to curb its data collection practices.

Facebook declined to comment on the court decision. The cartel office said it would issue a statement on the decision later on Monday.

The court said its temporary injunction removing restrictions on Facebook’s data gathering would be valid until it had made a final decision on the company’s appeal.

Germany, where privacy concerns run deep, is at the forefront of a global backlash against Facebook, fueled by last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal in which tens of millions of Facebook profiles were harvested without their users’ consent.

In its February decision, the antitrust watchdog objected in particular to how Facebook pools data on people from third-party apps – including its own WhatsApp and Instagram – and its online tracking of people who aren’t even members through Facebook ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons.

Last month, Facebook said it will improve safeguards on user data as part of a settlement to resolve a U.S. government probe into its privacy practices, which resulted in a $5 billion fine.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr and Riham Alkousaa,; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Louise Heavens

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