Facebook Says EU Antitrust Probe Invades Employee Privacy

Facebook said on Monday that it is requesting EU courts to investigate "exceptionally broad" demands by competition authorities there that would scoop up employees ' personal details.

The US-based Internet colossus stated that it cooperated with the European Commission's competition inquiry and will continue to do so, but that the language of the Commission's demands casts a net so large that it would extend to Facebook employees' private messages and more, reports AFP.

The leading social network plans to supply the Commission with hundreds of thousands of records, according to the Facebook Associate General Competition Counsel Tim Lamb.

“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,” Lamb said in response to an AFP inquiry.

Those documents include “highly sensitive personal information such as employees’ medical information; personal financial documents, and private information about family members of employees.”

Facebook argues that these demands will be checked by EU judges, according to Lamb, and urges the court to accept specific search words such as "applause" or "for free" that may potentially be contained in personal email messages or other communications outside the reach of competition matters.

Regulatory probes can involve requests for messages or documents bearing certain words or phrases, with those seeking information inclined to craft wide nets and those being queried wanting them narrowly targeted.

A highly anticipated US antitrust hearing, including top executives of four Big Tech firms, was originally set for Monday but has been postponed.

A notice filed by the House Judiciary Committee set no new date for the hearing titled “Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.”

The hearing would have conflicted with the memorial service for the late representative and civil rights leader John Lewis, who will lie in state in the US Capitol until Tuesday.

The antitrust meeting was held in the wake of increasing fears about the domination of Big Tech, which was much more apparent after the coronavirus pandemic and coincided with federal and state level investigations of internet giants.

Chief executives Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google and its parent firm Alphabet had agreed to participate in the session.

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