German Regulator orders WhatsApp to Cease Sharing User Data with Facebook


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A while back, WhatsApp made an announcement that it will begin allowing Facebook to access user phone numbers. The move meant that users will begin to see more ads on Facebook based on their behavior from WhatsApp. The messaging service will not offer any ads itself. WhatsApp also said that the new data sharing move will allow Facebook to offer users better friend suggestion.

The move elicited sharp reactions across the world and confirmed the fears of millions of WhatsApp users who worried for their privacy following its $19 Billion acquisition by Facebook.  At the time, WhatsApp CEO responded with assurances that this would not happen under any circumstances. In his statement, he said that respect for user privacy was coded into their DNA and that WhatsApp was built with the goal of knowing as little about the user as possible. The messaging services seems to have reneged on its earlier promise.

Now, Germany’s privacy regulator has ordered the service to immediately stop any data sharing arrangement with Facebook and ordered Facebook to delete all the data already forwarded to them. The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information stated that Facebook was breaking the data protection law by collecting data from WhatsApp’s 35 million users in the country. According to Reuters, Facebook has on its part stated that its move complies with the European Data Protection laws.

The regulator has stated that both Facebook and WhatsApp operate as independent companies and as such, should comply with their individual terms and conditions.  The move by the German regulator comes just before the US and EU begin an investigation into the new privacy changes made by WhatsApp in its August announcement.

Facebook has been looking for ways to monetize WhatsApp with some of the suggestions revolving around making WhatsApp a CRM tool for businesses. The data sharing move was another suggestion offered by the company.