Wednesday, 20 December 2017 09:13

France warns WhatsApp of fines over data-sharing with Facebook Featured

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France's privacy watchdog has indicated that it may levy fines on messaging app WhatsApp if the lcompany does not follow an order to stop sharing user data with its parent company Facebook.

The National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) said on Monday that it had given WhatsApp a month to comply with the order. It emphasised that particular attention should be given to getting consent from users, Reuters reported.

The watchdog said that WhatsApp had no legal grounds for sharing user data with Facebook; under French law, it was obligated to comply with CNIL.

In a statement, CNIL said that WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, had released a new version of its terms of service and privacy policy on 25 August 2016 saying that from that point on, its users' data would be transferred to Facebook for targeted advertising, security and evaluation and improvement of services.

WP29, a group of European data protection agencies, had asked WhatsApp for details on these new policies, and also told the company to to stop the transfer of user data for targeted advertising, it said.

While the WP29 had repeatedly asked WhatsApp to provide a sample of French users’ data transferred to Facebook, the company had said it could not do so as it was located in the US and considered that it was subject only to US law.

CNIL said it had decided to make the matter public "in order to ensure the highest level of transparency on the massive data transfer from WhatsApp to Facebook and... (highlight) the need for individuals concerned to keep their data under control".

"Should WhatsApp fail to comply with the formal notice within the specified timescale, the Chair may appoint an internal investigator, who may draw up a report proposing that the CNIL’s restricted committee responsible for examining breaches of the Data Protection Act issue a sanction against the company," the CNIL warned.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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