German data protection authorities ordered WhatsApp to stop sharing users data with its parent Facebook on Tuesday. The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information issued an order to Facebook to cease collecting information of German WhatsApp users and ordered the company to delete all data which was forwarded.
Last month, WhatsApp said it would be collecting user data including phone numbers, usage patterns, status and login information to perform analytics and for “people (users) to communicate with businesses”. Further such information will also be shared with Facebook and Facebook’s family of apps so that it can track basic metrics like how often users utilize services. Users were given a deadline of September 25 to opt out of sending information to Facebook.
The order read that Facebook and WhatsApp are independent companies that process their user’s data on the basis of their own Terms and Conditions and Data Privacy Policies.
Users had raised concerns about their privacy when Facebook acquired WhtasApp and that time in March 2014, the company took on the criticism and pledged to protect user’s sensitive information and other related data. “The fact that this (data sharing) is now happening is not only a misleading of their users and the public, but also constitutes an infringement of national data protection law,” the order said.
The German data protection agency also added that Facebook has neither obtained an effective approval from WhatsApp users and nor does a legal basis for data reception exist.
They added that Facebook must respect German data protection law after the European Court of Justice said that national data protection laws are applicable if a company processes data in connection with a national subsidiary. Facebook has a subsidiary in Hamburg which is responsible for operating a marketing business in German-speaking regions, and as such it falls within the jurisdiction of data protection agency.
Supreme Court’s order in India
Last week, the Supreme Court of India said that Whatsapp will have to completely delete information and data of those users who delete their Whatsapp account by 25th September 2016. This data will not be shared with Facebook. It added that Whatsapp will not share data of users up-to 25th September 2016 with Facebook, if users choose to remain on messaging service. Read more on the order here.