France orders WhatsApp to halt user data sharing with Facebook

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France's data protection agency CNIL has told messaging app WhatApp it must cease automatic sharing of users' data, such as phone numbers, with parent company Facebook within a month. 

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WhatsApp has been ordered to stop sharing user data with parent company Facebook or face sanctions, reports The Guardian.

The French data protection agency, Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), said on Monday that WhatsApp did not have a legal basis to share user data under French law for “business intelligence” purposes. The messaging app must cease data sharing within a month, paying particular attention to obtaining users’ consent.

The watchdog said WhatsApp had violated its obligation to cooperate with CNIL and had not properly obtained users’ consent to begin sharing their phone numbers with Facebook.

“The only way to refuse the data transfer for ‘business intelligence’ purpose is to uninstall the application,” the CNIL said in a statement.

CNIL said that it considers the transfer of some data for security purposes to be legal, but that the sharing of non-essential information to improve the function of the app was not as users were not given the possibility to opt out.

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, stating that it would begin sharing data from the messaging app to the wider social network’s ecosystem in 2016.

The move, which Facebook said was not possible at the time of acquisition of the messaging app, drew warnings from data regulators over explicit consent.

In October, European Union privacy regulators rapped WhatsApp for not resolving their concerns over the sharing of user data with Facebook a year after they first issued a warning.

Read more of this report from The Guardian.

 

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