The European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, will “very closely monitor” companies which collect and use personal information, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google. This will be done in order to avoid any obstacle to competition, she informed Thursday.
“I will very closely survey the way in which the companies use the information,” stated the Danish commissioner, who has not hesitated, since taking office in 2014, to stand up to ICT and internet giants such as Google and Apple. “Companies that use ‘big data’ must respect the rules,” she declared.
We are “considering whether there is a need for scrutinizing mergers which include economically exploitable data, even if the companies possessing (this data) are not large,” she added.
The Commission thus initiated discussions in September with Facebook, who had announced, several days earlier, a modification in the confidentiality policy of its messaging application WhatsApp, repurchased in 2014.
Personal data collected through WhatsApp are now used to guide publicity to users of other applications belonging to the group, such as Facebook and Instagram. “We are in contact with Facebook on this matter”, stated a spokesperson of Mrs. Vestager.
“What we will do with the answers obtained is still an open question. Everything in its own time,” declared Margrethe Vestager on September 9th to Bloomberg.
Mrs. Vestager’s predecessor at the European Commission, the Spaniard Joaquin Almunia, had approved without conditions the repurchase of WhatsApp by Facebook in 2014 for a final sum of 22 billion dollars, a purchase questioned at the time by privacy defence groups who feared improper use of the personal data of users.