WhatsApp has stopped sharing data with Facebook in the UK for the time being, following an investigation of these charges by the Information Commission, UK’s data protection regulator, reports Wired. The UK regulator said that it wants the users to ‘be given an unambiguous choice’ before Facebook starts using their information and the chance to change that decision in the future.
This decision could have severe implications for WhatsApp’s data sharing plan as the regulator mentions that, “We’ll keep pushing on this, both from our office and alongside other data protection authorities across Europe, notably the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, where Facebook’s EU headquarters are based.”
WhatsApp has faced trouble in Germany as well, where it was ordered to stop sharing users data with its parent Facebook in September. Last month, various data protection officials from other European countries also said they had “serious concerns” with the way WhatsApp informed its users their personal details would be shared with Facebook.
In August, 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.
Note that users had raised concerns about their privacy when Facebook acquired WhatsApp 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.
Supreme Court’s order in India
In September, 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.