Last month, Facebook announced that it would be collecting some user data from WhatsApp in order to give people a better experience upon its social networking platform. Unsurprisingly, this development wasn’t taken too positively by many users and now, governments are stepping in as well. A German regulatory body has ordered the company to stop collecting and storing data on WhatsApp users in Germany, as it believes this could put the users’ digital privacy at risk.
Facebook had started syncing up the data belonging to WhatsApp users to its main database in order to forge closer links with the social networking platform. This, along with personalizing the experience, would have also helped it find new ways to generate revenue from the over one billion WhatsApp users worldwide. However, WhatsApp users are seeing it as a threat to their privacy.
This concern comes even as the messaging application said that it would start disclosing the phone numbers and analytics data of its users to Facebook, and allow businesses to contact customers directly on the platform. Basically, a project similar to one already being tested on the Facebook Messenger on a smaller scale.
There have been several authorities looking into the whole, Facebook-WhatsApp data syncing announcement last month. The numbers included a British regulator, which said that it was analyzing the development the day after the announcement. The first to actually act, though, are the Germans.
A German body has now ordered Facebook to stop collecting the data and also to delete all information already forwarded from WhatsApp associated with roughly 35 million German users.
It has to be their decision, whether they want to connect their account with Facebook.
Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg data protection commissioner, said in a statement.
Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened.
After this order, the social networking platform said that it was ready to comply with the German regulator and that it was working within Europe’s privacy rules.
The development isn’t really a bolt from the blue. Most European countries have lately been pushing back US technology giants’ use of people’s digital information. On multiple occasions, the authorities have forced companies like Google and Facebook to change their policies after they breached the European Union’s tough data protection rules.
It It will be interesting to see how the company deals with the situation. While it must comply with the rules put up by European regulatory bodies, there are plenty of other countries also hostile to the whole data eyncing theme. Giving in, in Europe may just signal governments all over to force Facebook to comply with the same norms in their countries as well.