EU privacy watchdogs urge WhatsApp to stop sharing data with Facebook

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WhatsApp has been asked to stop sharing user data with Facebook while European Union (EU) regulators investigate whether the practice is in accordance with its legislations. The move comes after the app’s change in policy prompted responses from countries all over the world including India and Germany.

To recap, WhatsApp had announced a massive change in its privacy policy back in August this year which paved the path for it to share user data with Facebook. Both had promised not to do so when the former was acquired in 2014. This prompted a widespread backlash across the globe, with many seeing the changes as a breach of contract.

European privacy watchdogs the Article 29 Working Party have now issued a letter to WhatsApp founder Jan Koum addressing these concerns. It wants to make sure the modifications are in line with European privacy laws. To do so, it’s asking for more details on the kind of data Facebook gathers.

Also Read: Germany bans Facebook from collecting WhatsApp user data

Specifically, the Article 29 Working Party wants to know whether the data collection includes things like telephone numbers, names, email IDs, and addresses. It also seeks more clarity on where this information is coming from namely whether it’s sourced from data on a user’s phone or from data already sitting in WhatsApp’s servers.

The watchdog is also asking Koum to shine a light on the recipients of the information and effects of the data transfer on users and third persons. The letter also questions the manner in which WhatsApp went about implementing the policy and the effects it could have on people who aren’t on Facebook or WhatsApp.

WhatsApp for its part has issued a statement clarifying that its working with data protection authorities to address their queries.