German regulator stays vigilant as Meta changes VR headset rules

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BERLIN: Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms has responded to concerns from Germany’s Cartel Office by allowing its virtual reality headset to be used without a Facebook account, the agency said on Wednesday.

The cartel office has been closely monitoring Meta since May, when it declared it to be “of primary importance to competition between markets”, a classification which gives the regulator more leeway to limit the market power of digital businesses.

In a statement on Wednesday, the German cartel office said Meta would allow the device to be used with a separate Meta account, paving the way for it to start selling the Quest 2 headset in Germany. This also applies to the new Quest Pro model, he added.

Meta did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Cartel bureau chief Andreas Mundt pointed to Meta’s strong position in social media as well as the growing virtual reality market.

“If the use of VR headsets were only possible for Facebook or Instagram members, it could seriously affect competition in both areas,” he said.

Although the headset is made available to others through the Meta account, the German regulator said it will continue to monitor the design of user choices and issues related to the aggregation and processing of user data from meta services.

(Writing by Rachel More; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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