On WhatsApp, Facebook Makes the Rules
As WhatsApp’s new terms required the users to agree to the new policy update or find themselves unable to use the service, the data protection commissioner in Hamburg, Johannes Caspar, deemed the requirement as illegal and issued an order banning the social media giant from processing German users’ WhatsApp data for a period of 3 months, just as the 15 May deadline for consenting to WhatsApp’s new terms was looming on the horizon.
WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, quickly became the world’s most popular messaging application just one year later and is now the primary means of internet communication in Latin America, the Indian subcontinent, but also in the majority of Europe and Africa, with a user base of over 2 billion people worldwide.
Facebook official position: It’s all a misunderstanding
In response, Facebook said that the Hamburg data protection authority misunderstood the purpose of its update and thus plans to appeal. “As the Hamburg DPA’s claims are wrong, the order will not impact the continued roll-out of the update. We remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
Things to come for Facebook and WhatsApp
In the meantime, the Hamburg official urged a panel of European Union data regulators to apply the same ban to all 27 EU member states. The Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante per la Protezione dei Dati Personali – GPDP) has also previously contacted the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) over the WhatsApp T&Cs change, as a similar situation took place in India, with the government trying to block the WhatsApp update in court.