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WhatsApp Promises Not to Share Your Data with Facebook, Yet…


In an announcement made on the official blog of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on Wednesday (Mar 15th), Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham revealed that WhatsApp has made a public commitment to not share its users’ data with Facebook following a nearly two-year investigation conducted by the ICO.

“People have a right to have their personal data kept safe, only used in ways that are properly explained to them, and for certain uses of their data, to which they expressly consent. This is a requirement of the Data Protection Act,” said Ms Denham.

“My office has just completed an investigation, which commenced in August 2016, into whether WhatsApp could legally share users’ data with Facebook in the manner they were considering.”

In short, this means that users have both the right and the need to know when their data is being collected, what that data may pertain to, and how it is being used. With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules coming into effect from May this year, companies need to be careful as any breaches are sure to be handled seriously, and those who fail to follow proper procedure concerning the sharing of data may find themselves on the wrong side of the law. The process being considered by WhatsApp, it would seem, fell short of satisfying the required criteria.

Ms Denham reported the key finding of her office’s investigation as follows:
  • WhatsApp has not identified a lawful basis of processing for any such sharing of personal data
  • WhatsApp has failed to provide adequate fair processing information to users in relation to any such sharing of personal data
  • In relation to existing users, such sharing would involve the processing of personal data for a purpose that is incompatible with the purpose for which such data was obtained
  • If they had shared the data, they would have been in contravention of the first and second data protection principles of the Data Protection Act.
In light of these findings, WhatsApp has now signed an official ‘undertaking’ in which they have publicly pledged not to share personal data with Facebook until they can do so in compliance with the upcoming GDPR.

For those concerned about data sharing, it is worth noting that this undertaking by no means guarantees that WhatsApp will not share data with Facebook and other affiliated companies/platforms in the future, they will simply have to adapt how they do so in order to comply with the new regulations.



Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @Songbird_Sam

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WhatsApp Promises Not to Share Your Data with Facebook, Yet… Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Thursday, March 15, 2018 Rating: 5
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