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Eurobites: Facebook Fined $122M for WhatsApp Fibs

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Altice accused of jumping the gun on PT Portugal acquisition; Connected Baltics brings IoT to Estonia; Telefónica teams up with Project Loon in Peru.

  • The European Commission has fined Facebook €110 million (US$122 million) for providing "incorrect or misleading" information during its acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014. Facebook had claimed during the takeover process that it could not automatically match its user accounts with those on WhatsApp, but fast forward two years and that's exactly what it did, in an update to its terms of service and privacy policy. The move made it possible to, among other things, link WhatsApp users' phone numbers with Facebook users' identities.

  • Also in the Commission's crosshairs is Altice , which it accuses of jumping the gun on its acquisition of PT Portugal in 2015. In today's Statement of Objections, the Commission "takes the preliminary view that Altice actually implemented the acquisition prior to the adoption of the Commission's clearance decision, and in some instances, prior to its notification." If Altice is found to be guilty of the Commission's charge, it could face a fine of up to 10% of its annual worldwide turnover. Ouch.

  • Connected Baltics, a provider on the Sigfox Internet of Things network, has begun offering IoT services across Estonia. The service is now available in the most densely populated areas of the country and covers more than half of the population. The remaining areas will be covered later this year. Connected Baltics is currently carrying out IoT commercial pilot projects with different partners, system integrators and device makers.

  • The regulator's delay in introducing mandatory cuts in wholesale "superfast" broadband prices could mean UK consumers are being overcharged by around £140 million ($182 million), claim BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s rivals. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), the imposition of cuts -- up to 40% by 2021 -- to superfast broadband prices was delayed by a year while Ofcom considered a wider review of the telecom market.

  • Telefónica 's Peruvian subsidiary has been working with Project Loon, the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) -led program that uses balloons to bring Internet connectivity to less connected parts of the world, to provide emergency mobile Internet to areas of the country devastated by floods in March and April of this year. Telefónica and Project Loon provided basic connectivity to more than 40,000 sq km of the country, providing over 160GB worth of data -- enough to send 2 million emails. (See Google's Internet Balloon Project Takes Flight.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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