WhatsApp Given Period of 1 Month to Stop Facebook Data Transfers

WhatsApp told to stop sharing user information with Facebook

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.

The app has a month to comply with the order, according to a public notice posted to the French website. To recall, Germany had earlier ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users.

The decision comes a year after European Union privacy authorities said they had "serious concerns" about the sharing of WhatsApp user data for purposes that weren't included in the terms of service and privacy policy when people signed up to the service.

What worsened the situation was that WhatsApp declined to provide data transfer samples after repeated requests from the CNIL. An investigation was then held to make sure WhatsApp had complied.

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"While the security objective seems to be essential to the efficient functioning of the application, it is not the case for the "business intelligence" goal which aims at improving performances and optimizing the use of the application through the analysis of its users' behavior". The French regulator in its statement on Monday said the formal notice wasn't a sanction, but WhatsApp would risk fines at a later stage if it failed to comply.

In WhatsApp's case, the regulatory body found that the user data transfers of some 11 million French users were never used for some of the purposes originally intended, one of which is targeted advertising. That violates "the fundamental freedoms of users", said the CNIL.

CNIL said that it considers the transfer of some data for security purposes to be legal, but that the sharing of non-essential information to improve the function of the app was not as users were not given the possibility to opt out.

Data was invalidly collected because for two reason: it was not specific to this objective. After which, CNIL chose to issue formal notice to WhatsApp to comply with the Data Protection Act within one month. If it does not, the agency may appoint an internal investigator.

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