Facebook ordered to stop collecting data from German WhatsApp users

Messaging app WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, announced in August that it was going to share some data with the social media giant but a German privacy regulator wants that practice to stop.

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information on Tuesday ordered Facebook to stop collecting and sharing data from 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany, claiming it violated national data protection law. The regulator also wants the Menlo Park tech firm to delete any data it’s received from WhatsApp.

“This administrative order protects the data of about 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany. 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,” Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information said in a statement.

Facebook plans to appeal this order.

“We will appeal this order and we will work with the Hamburg DPA in an effort to address their questions and resolve any concerns,” a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters and other media outlets in a statement.

The company purchased WhatsApp in 2014 for what ended up being $22 billion after Facebook’s stock value increased.

During the summer, WhatsApp announced that it will be sharing data with Facebook including users’ phone numbers and  would allow businesses to use the service to reach customers so they can receive delivery notifications, flight status updates or appointment information.

The decision raised privacy concerns from some WhatsApp users.

WhatsApp said that its 1 billion monthly active users can opt out of having their data shared with Facebook.

Photo Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

 

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