Facebook may net EU fine over WhatsApp merger information

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The social network could get a financial penalty if it is found to have given misleading information to EU regulators.

Facebook has been handed a deadline to confirm whether it gave EU regulators misleading information about its takeover of WhatsApp two years ago.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, said it had issued a “statement of objections” and given Facebook until 31 January to respond.

The Commission said it was concerned that Facebook can match its users’ accounts with those of the mobile messaging service – having been told in 2014 that this was not possible.

However, its terms of service and privacy update in August suggest it can, the Commission said.

EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Companies are obliged to give the Commission accurate information during merger investigations.

“They must take this obligation seriously. Our timely and effective review of mergers depends on the accuracy of the information provided by the companies involved.”

She added: the “preliminary view is that Facebook gave us incorrect or misleading information.”

It could face fines of up to 1% of its turnover – hundreds of millions of pounds – if those suspicions are found to be confirmed.

The Commission added that, either way, the information would not alter its decision in clearing the transaction.

Facebook was yet to respond to the development.

Original Post by:  news.sky.com

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