Facebook waves white flag over WhatsApp data plan

denham 2Facebook has bowed to pressure from Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham by agreeing to suspend its data collection from UK WhatsApp users following accusations that it was potentially flouting data protection legislation.
The ICO launched its investigation eight weeks ago, while European privacy watchdogs have also expressed “serious concerns” over the app’s new privacy policy.
In a blog post, Denham said: “I had concerns that consumers weren’t being properly protected, and it’s fair to say the enquiries my team have made haven’t changed that view. I don’t think users have been given enough information about what Facebook plans to do with their information, and I don’t think WhatsApp has got valid consent from users to share the information. I also believe users should be given ongoing control over how their information is used, not just a 30 day window.”
While Facebook has halted the use of WhatsApp data for “advertisements or product improvement purposes” in the UK, it is not yet clear whether this will be expanded to other EU countries.
However, the ICO has asked the company to sign an “undertaking” that lays out how it will collect and use data and give users “ongoing control” over what is shared.
Denham added: “We think consumers deserve a greater level of information and protection, but so far Facebook and WhatsApp haven’t agreed. If Facebook starts using the data without valid consent, it may face enforcement action from my office.”
The Commissioner is no stranger to taking on Facebook. During her time as information and privacy commissioner in British Columbia, it is claimed that she led a “groundbreaking” investigation into privacy on Facebook, which resulted in global changes to the social networking site.

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