German Regulators Seek to Stop WhatsApp Sharing Data With Facebook

Regulators in Germany are seeking to bar Facebook from collecting user data from its subsidiary, WhatsApp (via Bloomberg).

Whatsapp Feature
The Hamburg regulator is looking to achieve an "immediately enforceable order" against Facebook by May 15, due to concerns that WhatsApp's privacy policy changes could lead to the unlawful use of user data for marketing and advertising purposes. Data Commissioner Johannes Caspar said in a statement earlier today:

WhatsApp is now used by almost 60 million people in Germany and is by far the most widely used social media application, even ahead of Facebook. It is therefore all the more important to ensure that the high number of users, which makes the service attractive to many people, does not lead to an abusive exploitation of data power.

The privacy policy changes suggested at the time that WhatsApp would share additional data with Facebook such as phone number, service-related information, IP address, and transaction data, but WhatsApp has since made it clear that the update does not affect data sharing with Facebook in terms of user chats or profile information, with the new terms instead applying to those who use the business chat feature.

WhatsApp delayed the introduction of its new privacy policy earlier this year after confusion and user backlash forced the company to assure users of its commitment to privacy. Nevertheless, the relationship between Facebook and WhatsApp is set to come under greater scrutiny in Germany as a result of the request for an enforceable order.

Up to now there has been no supervisory review of the actual processing operations between WhatsApp and Facebook that we are aware of. There is reason to believe that the provisions that will enable and expand the sharing of data between WhatsApp and Facebook will be unlawfully enforced due to the lack of voluntary and informed consent.

Facebook said in a statement that it is reviewing the information it has received from the Hamburg regulator and "will address their misunderstandings around the purpose and effect of the update." The company added that it remains "committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone.

To be clear, by accepting WhatsApp's updated terms of service, users are not agreeing to any expansion in our ability to share data with Facebook, and the update does not impact the privacy of their messages with friends or family wherever they are in the world.

WhatsApp has in fact shared some user information with Facebook since 2016, such as phone number, but chat messages and phone calls remain private and protected with end-to-end encryption.

The formal case has been opened "to prevent unlawful mass data sharing, if necessary, and to put an end to unlawful consent pressure on millions of people." Facebook get will the opportunity to respond to the allegations at a hearing before mid-May.

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Top Rated Comments

Ken88 Avatar
43 months ago
About time..F**k Facebook
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StevieD100 Avatar
43 months ago
About time too. Zuck will complain and posture about leaving the EU but in the end... he'll have to comply.
I just wish that FaecaeBook and Whatsfart disappeared altogether. They are blots on our society.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thisisnotmyname Avatar
43 months ago

Very good. Due to the fact so many people use WhatsApp it is difficult to get around it. Actually I think a social media platform should be offered from the state as well like other infrastructure (streets,, etc..)
It's actually quite easy, "no, I'm not installing that, I'll text you."
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PowerMacBook Avatar
43 months ago
http://signal.org
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Captain Trips Avatar
43 months ago
Zuckerberg: "This will hurt small businesses!"
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ErikGrim Avatar
43 months ago
Good. WhatsApp is a cancer on markets that were slow to catch up on unlimited data/SMS/MMS and Zuckerberg was smart enough to capitalise on it
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)