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WhatsApp’s new privacy policy is so bad it might be illegal

whatsapp’s-new-privacy-policy-is-so-bad-it-might-be-illegal

WhatsApp has been facing one hell of a backlash ever since it shared that it wanted to update its privacy policy with changes that would allow Facebook to aggregate all of its users’ data across all of its services. And now, the company might be in for some regulatory issues, as well. A German privacy regulator (via Bloomberg) has opened proceedings to stop the company from moving forward with the privacy policy update.

The Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, Johannes Caspar, is looking to stop Facebook from aggregating the data from WhatsApp, fearing that the company would use it to expand its marketing and advertising business.

Caspar said in a statement: “Currently, there is reason to believe that the data sharing provisions between WhatsApp and Facebook are intended to be unlawfully enforced due to the lack of voluntary and informed consent. In order to prevent unlawful mass data sharing and to put an end to unlawful consent pressure on millions of people, a formal administrative procedure has now been initiated to protect data subjects.”

The goal is to reach a decision before May 15, the date when users have to accept the new privacy policy or (presumably) stop using WhatsApp. It’s highly possible that the order will only apply for German residents, but we can still hope that the proceedings will set a precedence for other countries and regulators.

The Hamburg commissioner previously successfully issued a similar order against Facebook four and a half years ago for updating WhatsApp’s terms and services with changes regarding information sharing across Facebook companies. The order was confirmed by two instances after Facebook took legal action against it, and data sharing between Facebook and WhatsApp has been more limited in the EU than in other regions ever since.

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