Citing Privacy, France Asks WhatsApp To Stop Sharing Data With Facebook

The Logical Indian Crew

December 20th, 2017

Courtesy: Economic Times, The Guardian

The National Data Protection Commission (CNIL), France’s privacy monitor, asked Whatsapp to stop sharing its users’ data with Facebook.

This was prompted when the Chair of the Commission asked Whatsapp to provide a sample of the data shared on Facebook. Whatsapp refused to do this since it was a US-based company and operated only under US laws that govern customer privacy. The Chair then issued a formal notice asking Whatsapp to fall in line with the Data Protection Act within a month.


The history

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014. In August 2016, Whatsapp had released a changed version of its Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy stating that “from now on, its users’ data are transferred to Facebook for three purposes: targeted advertising, security and evaluation and improvement of services (business intelligence).” 

The social media giant that it would start sharing information from its approximate 1 billion client base, including telephone numbers, from WhatsApp clients with Facebook, with the end goal of focused promotions. It gave clients the choice of disallowing the information being utilized for promoting purposes, yet did not enable them to stop the information being shared amongst WhatsApp and Facebook.

“While the security purpose seems to be essential to the efficient functioning of the application, it is not the case for the ‘business intelligence’ purpose which aims at improving performances and optimising the use of the application through the analysis of its users’ behavior,” noted Chair of the CNIL. CNIL opines that the sharing of this sort of data does not fall in accord with the legalities of the Data Protection Act.


Previous instances

WhatsApp has faced heat previously from Germany, UK, and the EU, yet Facebook has kept up that it works in Europe from its central headquarters in Ireland and that its activities are in this manner represented by Irish law. According to a report by The Guardian. Germany had ordered Facebook to stop collecting user data from WhatsApp. The Commissioner for the Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Johannes Caspar, stated that Facebook “neither has obtained an effective approval from the WhatsApp users nor does a legal basis for the data reception exist.” Facebook was also asked to delete pre-existing data that had been collected. The European Union’s data regulator group started a task force to carry out “an unmistakable, complete determination” to get the data giants to agree to the EU laws. Facebook was fined £94m in May for giving incorrect data about its 2014 takeover of WhatsApp. It had said it wouldn’t connect client accounts between the platforms and yet did precisely that.

In India too, in September, the Supreme Court had asked Facebook and WhatsApp to file an affidavit in court to assure that they would not share the data of their users with third-party companies until the Centre came up with a data protection act. The representatives of these companies, Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, stated that no sure information had been shared. Allegedly, only phone numbers, mobile devices used, last time of access and the people’s registration IDs were shared on Facebook. 

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