WhatsApp And Facebook Sharing User Data? The UK says No Way

We shall call this a small win for privacy.

When Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion in 2014, we knew the writing was on the wall. After all, Facebook already had it’s own messenger, and there was no reason why WhatsApp would have been worth that amount of money at the time. Of course, we all suspected what Facebook was really purchasing. That was of course, user information. But the company saw the reaction, and promises were made through WhatsApp that user information would never be shared with Facebook and WhatsApp users could feel as safe as they ever had.

That story of course changed in 2016 when WhatsApp changed their privacy policy to reflect that they would indeed begin to share information with Facebook. A couple of countries stepped in to freeze this transmission of user data, and began investigating. Sadly, the US was not one of these countries. But one such country has finally come to a conclusion.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced that their investigation is complete. They have found that Facebook does not, and cannot share user data between the two services. Because the sharing of information was halted in the UK, before it began, no actual offense was committed, and Facebook faces no legal action. WhatsApp has had to commit publicly that it will not share UK user data with Facebook until and unless it can be done in a way which is compliant with upcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

ICO Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement, “WhatsApp has not identified a lawful basis of processing for any such sharing of personal data;
WhatsApp has failed to provide adequate fair processing information to users in relation to any such sharing of personal data;
In relation to existing users, such sharing would involve the processing of personal data for a purpose that is incompatible with the purpose for which such data was obtained;
I found that if they had shared the data, they would have been in contravention of the first and second data protection principles of the Data Protection Act.”

Congratulations to the UK for halting this wholesale information transfer. I wish my own country would have done the same.

Source: Tech Crunch


Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs. Former BlackBerry Elite. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.