“WhatsApp must ensure that users understand what they agree to and how their personal data is used, in particular where it is shared with business partners. I expect from WhatsApp to fully comply with EU rules that protect consumers and their privacy.” – Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice
In a statement to Reuters, a WhatsApp spokesperson said:
“We look forward to explaining to the European Commission how we protect our users’ privacy in compliance with our obligations under EU law.”
What prompted the European Commission’s notice?
The Commission was acting on complaints received by the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and eight of its members.
In a statement to TechCrunch, BEUC’s deputy director-general, Ursula Pachl, said:
“WhatsApp bombarded users for months with persistent pop-up messages. What’s more, consumers didn’t know what they were being pushed to accept. WhatsApp has been deliberately vague about this, laying the ground for far-reaching data processing without valid consent from consumers.”
The Commission also noted that it is concerned about the exchange of users’ personal data between WhatsApp and third parties or other Facebook/Meta companies.
The new policies, which were first notified in January 2021, are largely expanded and better-explained versions of their existing conditions, albeit with some additions. The most notable addition includes WhatsApp’s integration into the Facebook family of products and more data-sharing with Facebook.
It allows WhatsApp to share any information identified in the policy’s extensive “Information We Collect” section. Additionally, messages to WhatsApp Business accounts could potentially be shared with third-party service providers, which could include Facebook itself.
This free flow of data between Facebook apps would theoretically allow the company to understand user preferences and profiles, helping them improve their ad targeting algorithms.
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