Facebook agrees to suspend using WhatsApp users' data: Report

Facebook has agreed that it won't use data from UK users of its WhatsApp messaging app

Published Date
08 - Nov - 2016
| Last Updated
08 - Nov - 2016
 
Facebook agrees to suspend using WhatsApp users' data: Report

Facebook has agreed to stop using WhatsApp data from users in the UK, says Britain's privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office. As part of this deal, Facebook has agreed that it won't use data from UK users of its WhatsApp messaging app for ads or product improvement. Britain's privacy watchdog earlier said that consumers weren't properly protected when WhatsApp decided to share users' data with its parent company, Facebook. It added that the social media giant will face action if it uses such data without valid consent.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, and introduced the first change in its privacy policy in four years. The new privacy policy introduced by WhatsApp in August last year said that it would share user data with Facebook to better fight spam and also improve user experience of both services. Back in August, the Information Commissioner's Office said that it would monitor WhatsApp's new privacy policy, after WhatsApp announced it.

"We’ve set out the law clearly to Facebook, and we’re pleased that they’ve agreed to pause using data from UK WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes," said Elizabeth Denham, UK Information Commissioner. The ICO said that it has asked Facebook and WhatsApp to sign an undertaking to better explain how customer data will be used, thereby giving users ongoing control over that information.

"We think consumers deserve a greater level of information and protection, but so far Facebook hasn’t agreed. If Facebook starts using the data without valid consent, it may face enforcement action from my office," the head of the ICO, Elizabeth Denham, said in a statement.

"Several other European privacy watchdogs, such as Spain's, have said they intend to contact Facebook about WhatsApp's privacy policy change, but have not yet done so," reports Reuters. Elizabeth Denham said that her office will keep pushing the issue with other privacy watchdogs, notably the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, where Facebook’s EU headquarters are based.

Facebook, however, insists that the data WhatsApp collects is extremely limited, and only a part of the entire data is then shared with Facebook.