Record fine of 225 million euros to WhatsApp for not saying how it shared data with Facebook

Ireland’s highest data protection body has fined WhatsApp € 225 million for violating European data protection laws (GDPR).

The investigation began three years ago, just after the new law came into force; It was then that the Data Protection Commission (DPC) responded to questions about whether the instant messaging app really met the transparency and information requirements required by law, both for users and for those who do not have an account on the service. The most controversial part refers to the way in which WhatsApp shares data with Facebook, its owner.

In fact, the investigators reached a conclusion last December, and their draft included a maximum fine of 50 million euros; but when they presented it, 8 of the 40 European regulators were against. Therefore, the final decision was transferred to the European Data Protection Committee , which has been the one that has instructed the DCP to increase the fine to 225 million euros for a number of important factors in the investigation.

In addition to the fine, the DCP has imposed a reprimand on WhatsApp, and an order to change its terms of use and thus fully comply with the GDPR.

In reality, on WhatsApp they already expected a fine; the real surprise has been the amount. The company set aside 77.5 million euros this year, in anticipation of the DCP decision, and did not expect it to be expanded in that way. For this reason, WhatsApp has stated that it will appeal the fine to higher authorities, not agreeing with this decision; Likewise, it has once again assured its commitment to offer a private and secure service.

In response to the initial investigation of the DCP, WhatsApp has already implemented changes in its terms of use, but not in substance but in form, in an attempt to make them easier for users to understand . However, that does not seem to have been enough for the DCP and the European Committee to consider that transparency is sufficient for users.

This fine is not so much for the fact that WhatsApp shares data with Facebook, but for the way in which it explains it to users, and the level of detail it provides in the terms of use on how it uses the data.

At the beginning of the year, WhatsApp got into a great controversy over new terms of use that included new references to Facebook . Since then, the service has spent months trying to convince users that the changes do not imply a loss of privacy; it is a position that now receives a severe blow with the publication of this fine.

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Dewayne Westbrook
Dewayne is one among the contributors of The Croatia Times with a particularly unique perspective with regards to politics events. He aims to empower the readers with delivery of apt factual analysis of politics news pieces from world.

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