Menu
Halt WhatsApp data transfers, German privacy watchdog tells Facebook

Halt WhatsApp data transfers, German privacy watchdog tells Facebook

Facebook does not have permission from WhatsApp 35 million German users to transfer their data, said Hamburg's Data Protection Commissioner

Facebook must stop collecting information about WhatsApp users in Germany, a local privacy watchdog has ordered.

Last month, Facebook began combining user data from WhatsApp, the messaging company it acquired in 2014, with the mountain of information it holds about members of its social network in order to better target advertising.

The move prompted concern among WhatsApp users, as the company had long promoted itself as a strong protector of user privacy.

Privacy regulators were also concerned, among them the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, who on Tuesday issued an administrative order prohibiting Facebook from collecting and storing the data of German WhatsApp users. The company must also delete any data that WhatsApp has already handed over.

WhatsApp still operates independently from Facebook and the two companies have separate user agreements and data privacy policies. They have also, in the two years since Facebook acquired WhatsApp, assured their users that there would be no sharing of data, Commissioner Johannes Caspar said.
The sharing of data between the two companies is an infringement of German data protection law because Facebook has not obtained effective approval from WhatsApp users for the transfer, and there is no legal basis for it to receive the data, according to the Commissioner.

"It has to be their decision whether they want to connect their account with Facebook," he said. "Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened."

There are around 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany, but millions more are indirectly affected, he said. These are people whose contact details were uploaded to WhatsApp from users' address books, even though they may have no connection with WhatsApp or Facebook themselves.

Facebook told the Commissioner it had not yet collected all this information from WhatsApp. This, he said, is cause for concern because it can only make the impact of the data protection breach more severe when the transfer does happen.

A recent ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that national data protection laws apply if a company processes data in connection with a national subsidiary. Facebook does so through a subsidiary in Hamburg responsible for marketing in German-speaking regions, the Commissioner said.
That's a key detail in this case, as Facebook otherwise claims that its relations with all users outside North America are handled by its Irish subsidiary, and thus subject to Irish, not German, data protection law.

It was that claim by Facebook that led Austrian Max Schrems to file a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner -- a complaint that ultimately found its way to the CJEU and led to the invalidation of the Safe Harbor transatlantic data transfer agreement.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Facebookprivacy

Featured

Slideshows

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Show Comments