WhatsApp and Facebook: Article 29 Working Party Dissatisfied with Privacy Changes

October 25, 2017

In December 2016, the Article 29 Working Party expressed
concern about the sharing of data that had become a part of WhatsApp’s modus
operandi following its acquisition by Facebook. The conversations that ensued
led to WhatsApp publishing a new notice to EU users, alerting them to the practice
of sharing personal data with the Facebook group of companies.

In a letter of 24
October 2017
, the Article 29 Working Party has made it clear to WhatsApp
that the notice to EU users has failed to assuage their concerns and that the
basis for the data sharing (consent) is flawed as it is neither informed,
freely give, unambiguous or specific – pretty much a negative full house. Any
attempt to justify on the basis of legitimate interests is also given short

The Article 29 Working Party has set up a taskforce, chaired
by the ICO, with a view to finding ‘a satisfactory solution’. The Article 29 Working
Party states that it:

‘considers it a matter of utmost importance that a clear,
comprehensive resolution is put in place and that the pause in data sharing for
the purpose of improving Facebook products and enhancing targeted advertising
on Facebook continues until such time as the matter is resolved to the
satisfaction of data protection authorities. Equally, the WP29 stresses the
urgency of resolving the concerns of WP29 in relation to the other purposes for
which WhatsApp shares personal data with the Facebook family of companies.’

The full text of the letter can be accessed via the link

Readers will recall that the takeover by Facebook led to a
substantial fine because the promises on data sharing were deemed misleading.