Berlin: German regulators announced a three-month ban on Facebook from collecting user data from WhatsApp accounts on Tuesday, and forwarded the case to EU regulators on the grounds of concerns about the integrity of the election.
The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information sent the order to the social network, which owns the popular messaging service. Hamburg has jurisdiction because Facebook’s German branch is based in the city.
The tech giant informed WhatsApp users earlier this year that they had to consent to a new data-use policy to continue using the service.
The German authorities stated in an emergency decision that the terms of the agreement had been invalid for three months in Europe’s top economies.
It will transfer the case to the European Data Protection Commission, an independent EU agency that enforces the rules in all 27 member states.
The head of the German regulator, Johannes Caspar, said past Facebook data protection breaches as well as Germany’s general election in September showed the “dangers” of “mass building of user profiles” that could be exploited.
“That includes not only the private sphere but also the possibility of using profiles to influence voter choices and manipulate democratic decisions.”