French Watchdog Finds WhatsApp-Facebook Data Sharing Illegal

19 December, 2017, 11:09 | Author: Rosa Wright
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Facebook's trio of social networks now have in excess of a billion active users.

In August 2016, two years after WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook, the former changed its terms and conditions to force users to agree to data transfers to Facebook.

According to reports, the messaging app is now facing potential fines from a French regulatory authority over not complying with French privacy laws.

French data protection agency Cnil has issued a formal notice to WhatsApp, ordering the company to stop transferring the data of its users to Facebook, which it had been found to do, without their consent.

According to The Verge, the app has a month to comply with the order.

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The agency also criticized WhatsApp for "insufficient" cooperation after the initial warning from the European Union privacy authorities that had said they had serious concerns over WhatsApp sharing user data when its users had only signed up to use WhatsApp, not Facebook.

Earlier, other European regulators have attempted to police Facebook, especially in context to data-sharing. The authority rejected arguments by WhatsApp that it is subject only to the law of the USA, saying that it becomes the authority in charge the moment any company is processing data in France. CNIL took particular issue with the way the data collection program was rolled out, arguing that Facebook did not accurately explain to users why their data was being collected and that users had no ability to opt out if they wanted to remain on WhatsApp. The reason given was that since WhatsApp was located in the United States, it did not consider France as having jurisdiction in the matter.

What worsened the situation was that WhatsApp declined to provide data transfer samples after repeated requests from the CNIL.

CNIL rejected WhatsApp's argument that it's only subject to the USA laws, saying that any company that processes data in France becomes subject to local laws. If Whatsapp does not comply it could sanction the company, the watchdog said. The French agency said it was informed by the company that the data of its 10 million French users have actually never been processed for targeted advertising purposes.

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