WhatsApp rewrites data T&Cs but contests GDPR fine

whatsapp1WhatsApp has admitted it is overhauling its privacy policy as a result of the proposed €225m (£190m) GDPR fine from the Irish Data Protection Commissioner but is still pursuing its appeal against the ruling, insisting it has done nothing wrong.

The company, which now falls under the Meta holding company brand, formerly known as Facebook, was whacked with the fine in September for severe breaches of GDPR, but only after pressure from other European regulators to increase the sanction from a proposed €50m (£44m).

Slamming WhatsApp for a “very significant information deficit” among four violations of GDPR, Irish Commissioner Helen Dixon said the company provided only two-fifths of the prescribed information to users of its service and none to non-users about how it shared their data.

At the time, she added: “All four infringements are in my view very serious in nature. They go to the heart of the general principle of transparency and the fundamental right of the individual to protection of his/her personal data which stems from the free will and autonomy of the individual to share his/her personal data in a voluntary situation such as this.”

But WhatsApp has now launched an appeal against the penalty, claiming it was “entirely disproportionate”.

Even so, it has now decided to amending its policy documents in Europe and the UK to comply but insists nothing about its service is changing.

The new privacy policy contains substantially more information about what exactly is done with users’ information, and how WhatsApp works with Meta.

In a statement, the company said the changes are designed to “add additional detail around our existing practices”, and will only appear in the European version of the privacy policy, which is already different from the version that applies in the rest of the world.

It added: “There are no changes to our processes or contractual agreements with users, and users will not be required to agree to anything or to take any action in order to continue using WhatsApp.

“This update does not change how we process, use or share user data with anyone, including Meta, nor does it change how we operate our service”… “users will not be required to agree to anything new or to take any action in order to keep using WhatsApp.”

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