facebook, Zuckerberg

And EU’s date with lawsuits against American tech giants continues. The European Commission has now expressed its discontentment with Facebook, wherein the company has been charged for providing misleading information during its much celebrated takeover of WhatsApp.

Although the statement of objections sent to Facebook on Tuesday will not have any impact on the approval of the $22 billion merger in 2014, the Commission however might impose a fine of 1 percent of its turnover if the accusation is confirmed.

The issue goes back to the month of August when WhatsApp declared a change in its privacy policy, claiming that it would share some users’ phone numbers with parent company Facebook, which led to investigations by EU data protection authorities.

According to the Commission Facebook had specified in its notification of acquisition of the messaging app that technically it would not be able to match the two companies’ user accounts. However, in reality the possibility of automatically matching the ID of the users of Facebook and WhatsApp did exist in 2014.

It said,

In today’s Statement of Objections, the Commission takes the preliminary view that, contrary to Facebook’s statements and reply during the merger review, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users’ IDs with WhatsApp users’ IDs already existed in 2014.

EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said,

The Commission’s preliminary view is that Facebook gave us incorrect or misleading information during the investigation into its acquisition of WhatsApp.

The Commission has given Facebook time till until January 31, 2017 to respond. However, if Facebook fails to prove themselves right, the Commission can impose a fine on the U.S. company of up to 1 percent of its turnover. A spokeswoman from Facebook said,

We respect the Commission’s process and are confident that a full review of the facts will confirm Facebook has acted in good faith.

We’ve consistently provided accurate information about our technical capabilities and plans, including in submissions about the WhatsApp acquisition and in voluntary briefings before WhatsApp’s privacy policy update this year.

she added.

She also said that Facebook will continue to cooperate with the Commission resolve their questions.

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