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Facebook told to delete data received from WhatsApp by German watchdog

German data protection authorities have ordered Facebook to delete data received from WhatsApp.

By: Tech Desk |
September 27, 2016 6:15:43 pm
WhatsApp, WhatsApp Facebook, WhatsApp Facebook privacy data, WhatsApp Facebook privacy user, WhatsApp user data, Facebook privacy user data, Germany orders Facebook, Facebook WhatsApp data deletion, WhatsApp privacy policy Facebook ordered to delete data received from WhatsApp by German data watchdog.

German data protection authorities have ordered Facebook to delete data, such as phone numbers, it has received from its subsidiary WhatsApp. Facebook acquired the global messaging service two years ago and announced this summer that WhatsApp would begin sharing the phone numbers of its users with the social network as part of a program to synchronise the two businesses.

However, Hamburg’s Commissioner for Data Protection ruled Tuesday that Facebook “neither has obtained an effective approval from the WhatsApp users, nor does a legal basis for the data reception exist.”

“After the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook two years ago, both parties have publicly assured that data will not be shared between them,” commissioner Johannes Caspar said in a statement.

“The fact that this is now happening is not only a misleading of their users and the public, but also constitutes an infringement of national data protection law,” Caspar added.

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According to a Reuters report, Facebook said in a statement that it complied with EU data protection law. “We are open to working with the Hamburg DPA in an effort to address their questions and resolve any concerns,” it said.

The California-based company has faced repeated challenges in Germany, where there are strict laws on data privacy and intellectual property.

WhatsApp changed its privacy policy towards the end of August, where it announced it will start sharing user data with Facebook its parent company. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for nearly $ 19 billion, but co-founder Jan Koum had insisted WhatsApp would remain true to its mission which was to respect user privacy, and not collect user data.

However the new policy says WhatsApp will share data with Facebook including metadata which means device information, phone numbers, account log, online status, etc. WhatsApp says this is to improve ad experience on Facebook, although it says that none of this data will be ‘posted onto’ Facebook.

Read more: WhatsApp’s privacy policy: Might be no way to keep info out of Facebook

WhatsApp users have the option of opting out of the Facebook Share in the settings, but some data will still be shared. WhatsApp will “coordinate” more with Facebook and its group of companies. WhatsApp says it won’t force a user who doesn’t have a Facebook account to open one.

In India, too WhatsApp has found itself in trouble over the change to the privacy policy. The Delhi High Court on September 23 order WhatsApp to delete all data and information of all users from its servers up until September 25 when its new privacy policy comes into effect.

Also read: WhatsApp: Delete user data until September 25 when you change privacy policy, says Delhi HC

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal observed that it was “always open to the existing users of WhatsApp who do not want their information to be shared with Facebook to opt for deletion of their accounts.” The bench asked WhatsApp to delete all data/information/details on their servers of all users until September 25, for both the users who choose to delete the application as well as those who retain the application on their mobile phones. Read our full report here.

With agency inputs

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