Facebook in trouble over new WhatsApp privacy policy
Data Privacy and Security

Facebook in trouble over new WhatsApp privacy policy

WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy allowing it to share more information with parent company Facebook, was never likely to go down well. Reactions included:

Though there was a get out for those who didn’t want their data shared with Facebook, people took to social media (of course) to vent their frustrations, and it seems the powers that be think they might be justified. Not the Facebook/WhatsApp powers that be of course (don’t be silly), but the UK’s Information Commissioner (ICO).

The new privacy policy (if users agree to it) would allow WhatsApp to share subscriber data with Facebook to help better target advertising on Facebook. Data shared would include phone numbers and details of the last time that users signed on to WhatsApp. Apparently the ICO is concerned and wants more information about what is being shared.

In a statement, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said, “Some might consider it'll give them a better service, others may be concerned by the lack of control. Our role is to pull back the curtain on things like this, ensuring that companies are being transparent with the public about how their personal data is being shared and protecting consumers by making sure the law is being followed.”

Many users have complained that Facebook ‘lied’ two years ago when, after paying $22 billion for WhatsApp, it vowed to protect the privacy of its users’ personal information, others claim to feel ‘betrayed’. It’s unlikely the threat of a £500,000 ($660,000) fine if Facebook is found to have broken the Data Protection Act would make them feel better either, since it will barely make a dent in Facebook’s $2 billion in quarterly profit announced last month.

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Kate Hoy

Kate Hoy is Associate Editor at IDG Connect

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