French Privacy Watchdog Gives WhatsApp One Month to Stop Facebook data sharing

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France’s Privacy Regulator questions legality of WhatsApp transferring data to Facebook.
France’s privacy watchdog, CNIL, has formally issued notice to WhatsApp, requesting that the popular mobile messaging app to stop sharing collected user data with its parent company, Facebook, within a month.

If WhatsApp fails to co-operate with CNIL, and bring its sharing of user data with parent company Facebook into line with French privacy law, the watchdog may issue a substantial fine.

CNIL has ruled that WhatsApp does not have the legal basis under French law to share user data with Facebook. CNIL began its original investigation last year after WhatsApp altered the terms of service agreement and began sharing data with Facebook in order to develop targeted advertising, security measures, and gather business intelligence.


WhatsApp told to stop sharing data with Facebook



Vive la France?
While CNIL accepted that the transfer of user data for security purposes could be construed as being essential element of WhatsApp, the same did not apply for “business intelligence”. The French regulator said WhatsApp had not properly obtained users’ consent to begin sharing their phone numbers with Facebook.

A spokeswoman for WhatsApp said that “Privacy is incredibly important to WhatsApp. It’s why we collect very little data, and encrypt every message.”

At the time of writing, it was unknown whether WhatsApp would stop sharing its data with Facebook or whether it would challenge the decision.

Domino effect
WhatsApp and Facebook have had a tough time of it in the EU in the last 12 months. Germany ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users in September of 2016, and in the UK, Facebook agreed to stop collecting WhatsApp user data just a month later.

On top of that, Facebook was fined $122 million by the EU for providing “misleading information” about its acquisition of WhatsApp, as the company had claimed that it would be unable to link profiles of users from WhatsApp to Facebook, and then did exactly that.

Facebook found itself in trouble with German regulators again earlier this week, when the German anti-cartel office alleged that the company was abusing its dominant market position through the use of targeted personal ads.