EU Orders Probe on WhatsApp Data Usage
EU’s data protection watchdog ordered an urgent probe into how Facebook uses data generated through its WhatsApp platform. The body also rejected an appeal from German regulators to implement an EU-wide ban over the company’s practices.
The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) called for Facebook’s lead EU regulator in the Republic of Ireland to urgently investigate the company’s practices around WhatsApp user data. The EDPB said the high likelihood of infringements in particular for the purpose of safety, security and integrity of WhatsApp and other Facebook units, meant the matter required swift further investigations.
In May, the data privacy commissoner of Hamburg, Germany, imposed a three month ban on Facebook collecting user data from WhatsApp. It followed up by requesting EU regulators implement a bloc-wide block. Germany implemented the order after deeming a recent change in WhatsApp’s privacy policies to be illegal. The change provoked a widespread backlash, resulting in a delayed implementation. In addition to Germany’s tough stance, a number of consumer groups and users have also hit out at the changes.
The EDPB explained it wanted the Irish watchdog to further investigate Facebook’s role in data processing, after considering the lack of information regarding how data is processed for marketing purposes cooperation with other Facebook companies and in relation to WhatsApp’s business API. WhatsApp welcomed the probe and the decision not to extend Germany’s order across the EU, stating the ban was based on fundamental misunderstandings as to the purpose and effect of the update to terms of service.