EU charges Face­book over What­sApp buy­out

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

The Euro­pean Union charged Face­book yes­ter­day with pro­vid­ing “mis­lead­ing” in­for­ma­tion when it sought ap­proval for its block­buster $22-bil­lon buy­out of the What­sApp mo­bile mes­sag­ing ser­vice. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion said the EU’s green­light of the buy­out, an­nounced in Oc­to­ber 2014, was not in jeop­ardy but the so­cial network could face al­most two hun­dred mil­lion eu­ros in fines. With the charge, Face­book joins Ap­ple, Google, Ama­zon and Mi­crosoft among the US-based tech giants caught in ma­jor EU com­pe­ti­tion probes.

“The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has sent a State­ment of Ob­jec­tions to Face­book al­leg­ing the com­pany pro­vided in­cor­rect or mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion dur­ing the Com­mis­sion’s 2014 in­ves­ti­ga­tion” of the buy­out, the EU’s ex­ec­u­tive arm said in a state­ment. Face­book is ac­cused of mis­lead­ing the EU with a claim that it was tech­ni­cally im­pos­si­ble for it to merge users be­tween the two ser­vices. But What­sApp in Au­gust said that it would be­gin shar­ing data with Face­book, in a bid to al­low bet­ter-tar­geted ad­ver­tis­ing and to fight spam on the plat­form.

The up­date by What­sApp raises “con­cerns that Face­book in­ten­tion­ally, or neg­li­gently, sub­mit­ted in­cor­rect or mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion to the com­mis­sion,” the EU said. The com­pany has un­til Jan­uary 31 to re­spond to the charge sheet. It faces a fine of one per­cent of an­nual sales, which stood at a whop­ping $18 bil­lion in 2015. “We re­spect the Com­mis­sion’s process and are con­fi­dent that a full re­view of the facts will con­firm Face­book has acted in good faith,” a Face­book spokesper­son said in an email. — AFP

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