Germany orders Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp user data

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WhatsApp banned from sharing data with Facebook in Germany

Such an arrangement is only allowed if both companies make sure that people commit to it, German privacy watchdog says – which didn’t happen

The German data protection agency has ordered Facebook to stop collecting user data from its WhatsApp messenger app and delete any data it has already received.

The social network announced in August that it would begin sharing data from its 1 billion-plus user base, including phone numbers, from WhatsApp users with Facebook for the purpose of targeted ads. It gave users the option of opting out of the data being used for advertising purposes, but did not allow them to opt out of the data sharing between WhatsApp and Facebook.

WhatsApp’s hugely controversial data-sharing deal with Facebook is now officially banned in Germany.

The two companies announced last month that WhatsApp would start handing over data about its users to Facebook. Facebook would then use that data to help its ads, generating more information about the people using it.

That agreement caused huge outrage, with many people arguing that such an arrangement shouldn’t be allowed. What’s more, it caused embarrassment for WhatsApp, which has in the past committed to keeping data private and not using its platform for ads.

“This administrative order protects the data of about 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany,” said Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, in a statement. “It has to be their decision, whether they want to connect their account with Facebook. Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened.”

source: theguardian.com, independent.co.uk

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