WhatsApp Pauses Data Sharing With Facebook In UK & Europe


WhatsApp has paused plans to share user data with parent company Facebook in the UK and Europe.

The Information Commissioner recently spoke about its wish to “pull back the curtain” on how organisations use personal data.

In a blog post, the ICO said it didn’t think WhatsApp had received “valid consent” from users to share information with Facebook.

The changes, announced in August by WhatsApp, would let Facebook use WhatsApp’s user data to surface and tailor ads to members, along with enabling WhatsApp to bring relevant adverts to the messaging platform.

The move would also enable Facebook to get the phone numbers of WhatsApp users — data it has been trying to get from users for a while, as many have been unwilling to offer it up.

And after investigating concerns about this practice, the ICO announced on Monday that Facebook had agreed to pause using data from WhatsApp users in the UK for advertisements or product improvement purposes.

The ICO said it has also asked Facebook and WhatsApp to sign an undertaking committing to better explaining to customers how their data will be used, and to give users ongoing control over that information.

The statement, by UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, said: “We also want individuals to have the opportunity to be given an unambiguous choice before Facebook start using that information and to be given the opportunity to change that decision at any point in the future.

“We think consumers deserve a greater level of information and protection, but so far Facebook and WhatsApp haven’t agreed. If Facebook starts using the data without valid consent, it may face enforcement action from my office.”

And according to TechCrunch, it looks like this data sharing pause applies across all 28 European Union Member States.

Read the full ICO statement here.