BRUSSELS Dec 20 European Union antitrust
regulators have charged Facebook Inc with providing
misleading information during its takeover of WhatsApp, opening
the company to a possible fine of 1 percent of its turnover.
The statement of objections sent to Facebook will not have
an impact on the approval of the $22 billion merger in 2014, the
European Commission said in a statement on Tuesday.
in which it said it would share some users' phone numbers with
parent company Facebook, triggering investigations by a number
of EU data protection authorities.
The Commission said Facebook had indicated in its
notification of the acquisition that it would be unable reliably
to match the two companies' user accounts."
"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," it said.
"At this stage, the Commission therefore has concerns that
Facebook intentionally, or negligently, submitted incorrect or
misleading information to the Commission, in breach of its
obligations under the EU Merger Regulation."
Facebook has until Jan. 31 to respond. If the Commission's
concerns are confirmed it can impose a fine on the U.S. company
of up to 1 percent of turnover.
(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)