By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Meta Platforms suffered a setback on Wednesday as Europe’s second-top court ruled as legitimate the EU antitrust watchdog’s requests for information related to its investigation into Facebook’s data and online marketplace.
A spokesperson for the U.S. tech giant, which had compared the European Commission to a fishing super trawler vacuuming up data over the requests, said it was “considering its options” over the court decision.
“The General Court finds that Meta Platforms Ireland has not successfully demonstrated that the request to provide documents to be identified by search terms went beyond what was necessary,” the Luxembourg-based General Court said.
The court added in its ruling that Meta had also not shown that “establishing a virtual data room failed to ensure that sensitive personal data was sufficiently protected”.
Meta can appeal on points of law to Europe’s highest court, the EU Court of Justice.
“We also welcome the Court-established virtual data room, which recognised that purely private information – including personal medical files – has no relevance to any competition investigation,” the Meta spokesperson said.
Meta said it handed over more than a million documents since 2019 even as it questioned the necessity and proportionality of the data requests. An increasing number of companies have criticised such requests.
The cases are T-451/20 Meta Platforms Ireland v Commission & T-452/20 Meta Platforms Ireland v Commission.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)