Privacy Groups are Threatening Legal Action Over WhatsApp Data Sharing

By Tom Pritchard on at

One of the more important stories from last week was that WhatsApp, which has traditionally been fairly pro-user when it comes to data and privacy, is going to start sharing user data with its parent company, Facebook. Now privacy advocates and watchdogs are filing complaints over the new turn of events.

Among those making complaints are the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), and the US's Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). ICO has concerns about Facebook following data protection laws, and EPIC states that the policy change violates a Federal Trade Commission consent order.

ICO is still in the middle of its investigation into the matter, while EPIC is already filing a complaint stating that the new WhatsApp/Facebook data-sharing policy violates an FTC act prohibiting "unfair or deceptive trade practices." EPIC's argument stems from the fact that both Facebook and WhatsApp promised WhatsApp's privacy policy wouldn't change after the 2014 buyout, and it would never sell identifiable information on its users. As we all know, Facebook's own privacy policy was, and still is, much murkier. EPIC also claims that the data sharing should be opt-in, unlike the opt-out system that's currently in place.

According to WhatsApp the new data sharing is needed to test new features, such as notifications regarding bank fraud, information on flight delays from airlines, along with simpler things like improving the friend finder tool. It also maintained that messages will still be encrypted, meaning the content can't be read by either company.

Don't forget, you still have time to opt-out and it's a good idea that you do. [EPIC, ICO via Slashgear]