UK privateness watchdog ends WhatsApp probe after compliance pledge

(Reuters) – Britain’s privateness watchdog mentioned it had dropped an investigation into WhatsApp after the messaging service signed an endeavor to not share the non-public information of customers with its proprietor Fb.

The WhatsApp app emblem is seen on a smartphone on this image illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The choice by Data Commissioner Elizabeth Denham means WhatsApp, which has 1.5 billion month-to-month customers, is not going to be fined and that any future sharing of consumer information can be ruled by European privateness guidelines that enter into pressure in Could.

“I’m happy to state that WhatsApp has now signed an ‘endeavor’ whereby they’ve given a public dedication to not share private information with Fb,” Denham mentioned in a weblog put up on Wednesday.

The choice marks an essential decision for Fb, the world’s greatest social community, which is underneath hearth in the USA over the propagation of so-called ‘faux information’ throughout campaigning for the 2016 presidential election.

Fb can be underneath scrutiny over its dealing with of consumer information to focus on internet marketing – a enterprise that it, along with Google, has come to dominate globally.


The UK privateness authority opened its probe in Aug. 2016 after WhatsApp, which Fb purchased for $19 billion in 2014, up to date its privateness insurance policies to say that it could share info with the Fb ‘household’ of corporations.

The explanations given have been to assist to enhance companies, combat spam and enhance consumer experiences – together with making product ideas and exhibiting related gives and ads.

On the time, information safety officers expressed concern that customers of WhatsApp weren’t being totally knowledgeable about how their information was getting used nor their consent sought.

Comparable investigations are underneath means in Germany the place the nation’s important anti-trust workplace, the Federal Cartel Workplace, has discovered that Fb abused its dominant place in its dealing with of consumer information – together with from its on-line properties WhatsApp and Instagram.

France’s information privateness watchdog mentioned in December that it would fantastic WhatsApp if it doesn’t adjust to an order to carry its sharing of consumer information with Fb into line with French privateness regulation.

Denham mentioned that she had been assured by WhatsApp that no information had been shared with Fb aside from as an information processor – according to a pledge that was given after the UK probe was opened.

“WhatsApp cares deeply concerning the privateness of our customers. We acquire little or no information and each message is end-to-end encrypted,” mentioned a WhatsApp spokesperson in response to the UK determination.

“As we’ve repeatedly made clear for the final 12 months we aren’t sharing information within the ways in which the U.Okay. Data Commissioner has mentioned she is anxious about wherever in Europe.”

Reporting by Douglas Busvine. Modifying by Jane Merriman

Yasir Ali
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