French privacy watchdog raps WhatsApp over Facebook data sharing

French privacy watchdog raps WhatsApp over Facebook data sharing

Facebook Inc's messaging service WhatsApp was given a one-month ultimatum by one of Europe's strictest privacy watchdogs, which ordered it to stop sharing user data with its parent without getting the necessary consent.

According to The Verge, the app has a month to comply with the order.

The merging of WhatsApp's data with Facebook was a first step by Facebook past year toward monetizing the platform since the social network's Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg bought the company for about $22 billion in 2014. The regulating authority said that there's no way of opting out of data collection and it violates the fundamental freedoms of users.

Back in August 2016, WhatsApp released a new version of its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy where the messaging application noted, "from now on, its users' data are transferred to Facebook for three purposes: targeted advertising, security and evaluation and improvement of services (business intelligence)".

What worsened the situation was that WhatsApp declined to provide data transfer samples after repeated requests from the CNIL.

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"While the security goal seems to be essential to the efficient functioning of the application, it is not the case for the "business intelligence" objective which aims at improving performances and optimising the use of the application through the analysis of its users' behaviour", noted Chair of the CNIL.

It mentioned in particular the transfer of data about users such as their phone number and how they use the app as needing specific permission from users.

France's CNIL has regularly clashed with internet giants such as Facebook and Google over protection of user data. While the CNIL found that there was cause to share data for security purposes, no such legal basis exists for business intelligence per the Data Protection Act. This is not the first time the company has been slammed for collecting data.

Failure to keep the deadline will lead to an official internal investigation that could result in the CNIL's committee responsible for Data Protection Act violations bringing to bear sanctions against the company.

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