Germany acts to halt 'illegal' WhatsApp data collection

Germany acts to halt ‘illegal’ WhatsApp data collection

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Berlin: Germany’s chief data protection watchdog in charge of Facebook said on Tuesday that it will take action on social networks to prevent the collection of personal data from users of its WhatsApp messaging app.

Hamburg’s regulator said that after WhatsApp notified users that they would need to agree to new data terms or stop using the service earlier this year, it has initiated an emergency lawsuit against Facebook.

Hamburg’s data protection officer Johannes Caspar said: “We have reason to believe that due to the lack of voluntary and informed consent, the data sharing policy between WhatsApp and Facebook is being enforced.”

Caspar is responsible for domestic supervision of Facebook under the leadership of the German federal government because the company’s national office is located in Hamburg. He said that he is launching formal administrative procedures “to prevent illegal large-scale exchange of data” with a view to making a decision before May 15.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said: “Our latest update includes new options for people to send messages to businesses on WhatsApp and provides further transparency in the way we collect and use data.

“To be clear, by accepting WhatsApp’s updated terms of service, users do not agree to any extension of our ability to share data with Facebook, and the update will not affect the confidentiality of information with friends or family.”

This regulatory action opened a new front in Germany’s Facebook privacy policy, and the national antitrust regulator has launched a legal battle over data practices, which allegedly reflects the abuse of social network market dominance.

Since 2018, online privacy has been subject to the EU rule book called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to GDPR, Ireland is responsible for Facebook’s oversight, because the company’s European headquarters is there.
Caspar said he tried to freeze WhatsApp user data collection for three months

“Special circumstances” are foreseen in the GDPR. These measures can be expanded by the European Data Protection Board (European Data Protection Board), a forum made up of regulatory agencies from the 27 EU member states.

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