Messaging app WhatsApp has been ordered by French privacy watchdog CNIC to cease sharing user data with their corporate parent, Facebook, within the next month.
The Verge reports that WhatsApp, the popular encrypted messaging app, has been ordered by French privacy watchdog CNIC to cease sharing their user information with Facebook. In a notice posted to the CNIC website, the watchdog stated that WhatsApp must make a number of changes to how they transfer user data to Facebook — specifically by asking for users permission — or cease sharing the information with Facebook entirely.
The issues with WhatsApp’s sharing of user data with Facebook began last year after the messaging app updated their terms of service to state that the app would share data with Facebook to help develop targeted advertising, stronger security measures, and to collect business intelligence. Although another French government body, the CNIL, did agree upon investigation that WhatsApp was attempting to improve their security by sharing information with Facebook, WhatsApp’s claim of gathering business intelligence was found to be unacceptable.
The CNIL stated that because WhatsApp doesn’t tell users they are collecting information for business intelligence and transferring it to to Facebook, or ask their permission to do so, and doesn’t provide a way to prevent this without uninstalling the app entirely, this violates “the fundamental freedoms of users.” This isn’t the first time European data watchdogs have reprimanded Facebook for their data collection methods, in September of 2016, Germany ordered Facebook to cease collecting data from WhatsApp user, while Facebook agreed to stop collecting WhatsApp data in the UK in November of 2016.
Facebook was also fined €103.55 million euro by the European Union who claimed that the tech company provided “misleading information” about their acquisition of WhatsApp, which was mainly due to Facebook’s claim that they would be unable to link the profiles of WhatsApp users to Facebook.