Facebook is asking EU courts to put a limit on what information the region’s antitrust regulator can and cannot ask for while investigating the company and its business practices. Describing the EU Competition Commission’s requests as ‘exceptionally broad’, Facebook’s associate general counsel for competition, Tim Lamb, argued that the information the investigators are asking for will compromise the privacy of its employees.
In a statement to AFP, Lamb said: “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”. According to him, the documents include “highly sensitive personal information such as employees’ medical information”. It also includes “personal financial documents, and private information about family members of employees”, he said.
The EU investigation into Facebook comes at a time when many of the big tech companies in the US are facing increased scrutiny from antitrust regulators around the world. Google is one such company that is facing antitrust investigations in a number of countries, including in India. In fact, the company has already faced massive fines for alleged bias in its search algorithm, including a Rs. 136 crore (~$20 million) fine in India back in 2018.
Facebook itself has also received increased scrutiny from global antitrust regulators. WhatsApp, a Facebook subsidiary since 2014, is currently under investigation by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for trying to bundle its proposed payments service with its instant messaging app. Either way, with the big US tech companies facing increased scrutiny both home and away, it will be interesting to see how things work going forward.