Abrupt End to 'Hipster Antitrust'? Tackling Facebook’s Expansion Following the First Court Ruling in Germany
Hausfeld Competition Bulletin, Fall 2019
9 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2019
Date Written: November 20, 2019
On 6 February 2019, the German Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office – “FCO”) found that Facebook abused its dominance by improperly combining user data that it collected from various sources. As a remedy, the FCO imposed far-reaching restrictions on Facebook’s processing of user data, including a duty to obtain “voluntary consent” from consumers prior to any combination of data. Some celebrated the decision as an innovative approach to protect consumers by means of antitrust law beyond its classical focus on consumer welfare. This rendered the decision as a symbol for what has been dubbed “Hipster Antitrust”. The investigation even won the FCO the prestigious GCR award for global “Enforcement action of the year 2018”. Others, including the authors of this article, criticized that the decision might have over-stretched the limits of antitrust law.
Keywords: Facebook, Antitrust, Competition Law, Abuse of Dominance, Art. 102 TFEU, Data Protection, Appeal, Hipster Antitrust, Regulation, FCO, Bundeskartellamt
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