Security

Facebook Suspends WhatsApp Data Sharing Across EU

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Facebook stopped harvesting WhatsApp data in the UK last week, now it’s doing the same across Europe

Facebook has reportedly paused data sharing between its social network and WhatsApp across the European Union having already suspended such activity in the UK last week.

The company first announced its intention to collect data from the instant messaging application in August, sparking concern among users and data protection authorities, and contradicting earlier assurances.

A number of regulators have been in contact and the UK’s own Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) called for Facebook to provide more information and greater protection over how data would be collected and used.

Facebook WhatsApp data sharing

whatsapp billion“We have now asked Facebook and WhatsApp to sign an undertaking committing to better explaining to customers how their data will be used, and to giving users ongoing control over that information,” said the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

Neither Facebook nor WhatsApp acquiesced to this commitment but did stop using WhatsApp data for advertising and product improvement purposes.

“We also want individuals to have the opportunity to be given an unambiguous choice before Facebook start using that information and to be given the opportunity to change that decision at any point in the future,” added Denham

“We think consumers deserve a greater level of information and protection, but so far Facebook and WhatsApp haven’t agreed. If Facebook starts using the data without valid consent, it may face enforcement action from my office.

“We’ll keep pushing on this, both from our office and alongside other data protection authorities across Europe, notably the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, where Facebook’s EU headquarters are based.”

Facebook bought WhatsApp for £11.4 billion in 2014 and the initial fear was that the instant messaging application would feature advertising. However this has no materialised and WhatsApp scrapped its subscription fee.

It now appears as though data sharing and the ability for businesses to contact users will be how Facebook intends to monetise WhatsApp’s 1 billion strong user base and justify the hefty acquisition.

Facebook has been contacted for comment.