Facebook sues EU for requesting ‘highly sensitive personal information’
Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Social media giant Facebook is suing the European Commission for requesting thousands of documents for its antitrust investigation, saying they are unnecessary for the scope of the investigation.
The lawsuit is aimed at the EC’s antitrust regulators tasked with investigating how Facebook uses its data and how it competes with other social media companies since December 2019. If the court rules in Facebook’s favour, the company will be able to deny the Commission’s request.
“The exceptionally broad nature of the Commission’s requests means we would be required to turn over predominantly irrelevant documents that have nothing to do with the Commission’s investigations,” the director of Facebook’s branch on competition and regulation, Timothy Lamb, stated.
Giving out the information would mean revealing “highly sensitive personal information such as employees’ medical information, personal financial documents, and private information about family members of employees”.
Lamb added that the Commission’s request “should be reviewed by the EU Courts”, to which the Commission responded that it would be prepared to defend its case.
A source familiar with the matter told EURACTIV that the Commission selected documents by applying “very broad keyword data”, which “would yield hundreds of thousands of documents” including “completely irrelevant” information.
Reuters reports that these key search terms include “not good for us”, “shut down” and “big question”.
Since the beginning of the investigation, Facebook has turned over more than 300,000 documents to the Commission, equal to 1.7 million pages total.
The US version of the EU’s data-related antitrust investigation against Facebook, alongside with Amazon, Apple and Google, was set to have a Congressional hearing on Monday, but has been delayed for an unknown amount of time.
In 2018, Facebook was the first company to be persecuted for repeatedly breaching the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation on privacy, for which it had to pay a record €4.5 billion fine.