MarketingSocialMedia

Facebook Under Fire From EU Antitrust Probe Over Data Sharing With WhatsApp

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

Follow on:

The social networking company has been accused of misleading the EU during its acquisition of WhatsApp

Facebook has received a slap on the wrist over misleading information during its WhatsApp takeover from the European Union’s antitrust regulators in the form of charges that that could see it fined for one percent of its turnover.

The social networking giant has received the EU’s ire over a privacy policy change in WhatsApp made in August that would allow it to share WhatsApp users’ phone numbers with Facebook’s may company.

This triggered the EU’s data protection authorities to investigate Facebook’s potential for breaching the privacy of WhatsApp users.

Facebook v Europe

Europe 3During the merger process, Facebook told the EU that it would not be able to match users’ Facebook and WhatsApp accounts; it appears that was not the case and the EU are accusing Facebook of misleading it and its processes to curtail anti-competitive behaviour from companies working across its member nations.  

“Companies are obliged to give the Commission accurate information during merger investigations,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who heads up competition policy in the EU.

“In this specific case, the Commission’s preliminary view is that Facebook gave us incorrect or misleading information during the investigation into its acquisition of WhatsApp.”

Facebook will have to respond to the charges by 31 January 2017. 

A spokesperson from Facebook sent Silicon a statement noting it will work with the EU authorities to solve the issue. 

“We respect the Commission’s process and are confident that a full review of the facts will confirm Facebook has acted in good faith. We’ve consistently provided accurate information about our technical capabilities and plans, including in submissions about the WhatsApp acquisition and in voluntary briefings before WhatsApp’s privacy policy update this year,” the spokesperson said. 

“We’re pleased that the Commission stands by its clearance decision, and we will continue to cooperate and share information officials need to resolve their questions.”

The decision to probe Facebook will not have an impact over the EUs decision to approve the takeover of WhatsApp by the social media giant.

However, if Facebook cannot defend against the charges and accusations, it could face a hefty fine numbering in the millions of Euros.

Facebook appears to be constantly in the sights of data protection, privacy and antitrust organisations of the EU and the UK. It recently had to pause the data sharing between the main Facebook platform and WhatsApp after if faced threats from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office.

How much do you know about privacy? Try our quiz!