The Irish Data Protection Commissioner is demanding an “urgent briefing” from Facebook over its plans to merge WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, insisting it will be “very closely scrutinising” the proposal.
The social media giant announced late last week that it wants users on all three apps to be able to chat to each other. In doing so, the company would combine the data it has collected from the billions of users of the separate platforms for the first time.
All messages sent between the three apps will be encrypted so that only the sender and recipient can see them.
However, the company has “previous”. In 2016, the Information Commissioner’s Office put the kibosh on plans to merge WhatsApp with its wider business, ruling it would be in breach of data protection law.
In a statement, the Irish DPC said: “While we understand that Facebook’s proposal to integrate the Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram platforms is at a very early conceptual stage of development, [we have] asked Facebook Ireland for an urgent briefing on what is being proposed.
“The Irish DPC will be very closely scrutinising Facebook’s plans as they develop, particularly insofar as they involve the sharing and merging of personal data between different Facebook companies.
“Previous proposals to share data between Facebook companies have given rise to significant data protection concerns and the Irish DPC will be seeking early assurances that all such concerns will be fully taken into account by Facebook in further developing this proposal.”
It has been claimed that Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg regards the integration as a personal project. Facebook said: “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks. As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work.”
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