WhatsApp warned not to share data with Facebook by French watchdog

Posted December 19, 2017

WhatsApp has been in news for quite sometime now, and its for both good and bad reasons.

The French agency concluded its probe on Monday with the determination that WhatsApp "does not have a legal basis" for sharing data with Facebook.

France's data protection agency, the CNIL, said on Monday it has determined WhatsApp's transmission of user data to parent company Facebook is illegal under French law and given the companies one month to bring themselves into compliance. The privacy watch dog further informed WhatsApp - to do so - it has only a month's time in hand.

This decision finally stopped the battle which began a year ago when WhatsApp updated their Terms of Service to add a clause detailing the sharing of data with Facebook for targeted advertisement.

The regulator accepted that the transfer of user data for security purposes seemed to be essential to the functioning of the application. After which, CNIL chose to issue formal notice to WhatsApp to comply with the Data Protection Act within one month. Also, it is not free: the only way to refuse the data transfer for "business intelligence" purposes is to uninstall the application. However, this was a problem for the WhatsApp users, and questioned the application's privacy policy.

The agency also criticized WhatsApp for "insufficient" cooperation after the initial warning from the European Union privacy authorities that had said they had serious concerns over WhatsApp sharing user data when its users had only signed up to use WhatsApp, not Facebook.

Upon investigating the claims, CNIL ruled that WhatsApp never told its users it was collecting data for business intelligence and there is no way to opt out of this infringement without uninstalling the app.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, and ever since then, it is not the first time that WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing issue has come up. European authorities have tried to stop Facebook from collecting data in the past and Germany went an extra mile to force Facebook to stop data collection.

What worsened the situation was that WhatsApp declined to provide data transfer samples after repeated requests from the CNIL.