German regulator stays vigilant as Meta changes VR headset rules


FILE PHOTO: Morning commute traffic streams past the Meta sign outside the headquarters of Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc in Mountain View, California, U.S. November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Peter DaSilva

BERLIN (Reuters) - Facebook's parent company Meta Platforms has responded to the German cartel office's concerns by allowing the use of its virtual reality headset without a Facebook account, the office said on Wednesday.

The cartel office has been closely watching Meta since May when it declared it was of "paramount significance for competition across markets", a classification that gives the regulator more scope to curb digital companies' market power.

In a statement on Wednesday, Germany's cartel office said Meta will allow the device to be used with a separate Meta account, clearing the path for it to begin selling the Quest 2 headset in Germany. This also applies to the new Quest Pro model, it added.

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

Cartel office chief Andreas Mundt pointed to Meta's strong position in social media as well as the growing VR market.

"If the use of VR headsets were only possible for Facebook or Instagram members, this could severely affect competition in both areas," he said.

Despite the headset being made available to others via the Meta account, the German regulator said it would continue to monitor the design of user choices and issues relating to the aggregation and processing of user data from Meta services.

(Writing by Rachel More; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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