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Germany Orders Facebook To Stop Collecting WhatsApp User Data

German regulators have banned Facebook from collecting WhatsApp user data, in a move that could set a precedent in other countries.
Germany’s privacy watchdog said that sharing WhatsApp user data with Facebook, the messaging app’s parent company, constitutes “an infringement of national data protection law.” The regulatory body also ordered Facebook to delete all data that has already been transferred from WhatsApp.

“This administrative order protects the data of about 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany. It has to be their decision, whether they want to connect their account with Facebook,” says Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information.

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“Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened.”

“After the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook two years ago, both parties have publicly assured that data will not be shared between them,” Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, said in a statement. “The fact that this is now happening is not only a misleading of their users and the public, but also constitutes an infringement of national data protection law.”

 

Mr Ime Archibong, The Director of Global Products Partnership at Facebook explained the reasons for the policy on Wednesday in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.

“One of the policy changes that we made recently was all about trying to make sure we could unlock the business user connections that already exist,” he said.

“One of the policy changes that we made recently was all about trying to make sure we could unlock the business user connections that already exist,” he said.
Other privacy regulators have raised concerns over the data-sharing scheme. CNIL, France’s data protection authority and the chair of a group of privacy regulators across Europe, said in August that privacy watchdogs will be monitoring the change to WhatsApp’s policy “with great vigilance.” The Information Commission’s Office (ICO), Britain’s data privacy regulator, also said it would monitor how data is shared across the two platforms, though it does not have the authority to block the scheme altogether.

In an email statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company will appeal the order from Germany’s privacy watchdog.

“Facebook complies with EU data protection law,” the spokesperson said. “We will appeal this order and we will work with the Hamburg DPA in an effort to address their questions and resolve any concerns.

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