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European Union fines Facebook 110 million euros over WhatsApp deal

19 May 2017

The fine would not reverse the Commission's decision to clear the purchase of WhatsApp and was unrelated to separate investigations into data protection issues, it added.

Facebook Accused of Misleading EU in WhatsApp Takeover ProbeThe European Commission on Thursday fined USA social media giant Facebook 110 million euros ($120 million) for providing incorrect and misleading information on its takeover of WhatsApp, imposing its biggest penalty for such a breach.

Facebook said in a statement that it "acted in good faith" throughout with the European Union office and "sought to provide accurate information at every turn".

European Union regulators cleared the then $19 billion Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp in late 2014, finding no reason to believe it would dampen competition in the burgeoning social media sector.

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Facebook had assured during the 2014 Brussels survey to buy WhatsApp "that it was unable to automatically and reliably link the user accounts of the two companies", a fact which the Commission explains "Take note" to give its approval to the business.

The Commission's issue centers around the US social networking giant linking Facebook accounts to WhatsApp user identities. "The errors we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional and the Commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcome of the merger review".

"Today's announcement brings this matter to a close", Facebook said. But the commission found out that wasn't true and said Facebook's staff knew about the possibility, but failed to inform them.

But a year ago, Facebook released an update to its terms of service that raised the possibility of linking accounts from both platforms.

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The Commission also has the power to revoke clearance decisions based on misleading information for which one of the parties are responsible, but has decided in this case that the October 2014 clearance is not affected.

She described the fine - for hiding the company's hypothetical ability to match up users' activity on Facebook.com with their behavior elsewhere on line - as "proportionate".

That's because, for now at least, breaches of European Union privacy laws are pursued on a national basis, where the ability of data protection authorities to impose fines is limited, in part because it is meant to deter smaller, local companies.

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European Union fines Facebook 110 million euros over WhatsApp deal