Sci-tech

WhatsApp says no to sharing with parent Facebook

WhatsApp says no to sharing with parent Facebook”

The popular messaging app has signed a public pledge not to share any user's data with Facebook after the ICO ruled that doing so would be illegal under the data protection act and before the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May this year.

The ICO ruling comes after a hard few years for the messaging service, after concerns were first raised when Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014. Crucially, WhatsApp built its reputation on setting itself apart from social services like Facebook and its reliance on advertising, and all the data manipulation the comes along with that. They state that data protection should be both by design and default in any operation.

Because there's no evidence WhatsApp had been sharing data with Facebook, the ICO confirmed it won't be handing out any fines.

Going forward, there are a few interesting loopholes for where data can be shared between the two platforms.

In response, the messaging app has signed the undertaking, declaring that it will not share any European Union user data until the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May.

Gizmodo has the details on the announcement from the Facebook-owned messaging app.

The EU data protection bodies have previously said that this "like it or lump it" approach to service use doesn't constitute freely given consent - as required by EU rules. It was, she said, "a fair assumption for me to make" that WhatsApp may have shared data for the other two purposes, "but have at some point since that letter chose to pause" this too.

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"At the heart of these concerns lies a desire for improved transparency, control and accountability, at a time when personal data is ever more central to the business models of key players in the digital economy", she said.

The second will be the wider European ramifications.

The Article 29 Working Party wrote collectively to WhatsApp to set out our concerns in October 2017; the Hamburg Commissioner of Data Protection and Freedom of Information issued a press release on 2 March 2018, indicating that the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) Hamburg had confirmed his administrative order, banning Facebook from using WhatsApp user data for its own purposes; the French data protection authority (CNIL) is in the process of bringing enforcement action against WhatsApp; and other EU Data Protection Authorities also have ongoing investigations, said Denham. I'm not sure Facebook will give up so quickly and it will be worth watching what kind of workarounds, if any, it comes up with to continue in its wider strategy to "connect" us all.

While we are pleased with the move, it is also a bit of a surprise. We will be monitoring changes to WhatsApp's privacy and terms and conditions under the new legislation.

Denham said United Kingdom consumers need not take any action, noting that the ICO had not been concerned about WhatsApp's sharing of personal data with Facebook when Facebook is only providing a support service to WhatsApp.

Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014 for $19bn (£13.6bn), and updated WhatApp's terms and conditions in August 2016 allowing businesses to send users messages and giving Facebook access to phone numbers to target users with tailored adverts.



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