German cartel office concerned by reports Facebook to merge apps

FILE PHOTO – A man uses an iPad with a Facebook app in this photo illustration in Sofia January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – Facebook’s reported plans to merge the infrastructure of its Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram services would, if implemented, face antitrust scrutiny in Germany, the head of the Federal Cartel Office said on Thursday.

Speaking after the watchdog cracked down on the transfer of user data between the apps, Andreas Mundt said such a step would “intensify” the very practices that it is seeking to prevent through its ruling.

“This could indeed be relevant in antitrust terms,” he told a news conference, adding however that in the absence of any official information it was difficult to assess the issue.

Facebook has said that discussions on such a move are at a very early stage.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by Thomas Seythal

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