15.05.2017

WhatsApp fined by italian watchdog for sharing data with

400The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) imposed a 3-million-euro ($3.2 million) fine on WhatsApp messaging service for allegedly forcing its users to share their personal data with its parent company Facebook, the agency said in a statement Friday.

All 28 European Union data protection authorities asked Whatsapp last year to stop sharing users' data with Facebook due to doubts over the validity of users' consent. The Italian agency said the application led users to believe they would not have been able to continue using the service unless they agreed to terms including sharing personal data. 

Whatsapp did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment on the fine. The amount is lower than the maximum €5 million the agency could have levied.

On Thursday, the ICA concluded two investigations, launched in October 2016, into alleged infringements by WhatsApp; when the investigation was opened, at the same time as the EU request, a Whatsapp spokeswoman said the company was working with data protection authorities to address their questions, and was committed to respecting the law.

WhatsApp, used by around one billion people, has been at the center of a privacy controversy since being acquired by Facebook in 2014. The social network at first pledged not to interfere with the existing privacy rules and to minimize the number of advertisements, but privacy policy changes came about in 2016, allowing more data sharing between the two platforms. The data sharing was halted after the European Union charged Facebook with providing misleading information on its merger with WhatsApp.

The Italian watchdog said other aspects of the hugely popular WhatsApp were unfair, such as the unexplained interruptions to service and only the provider being able to stop the agreement. 

The German authorities banned Facebook from collecting information on its WhatsApp users in the country after it was found to have breached data protection laws. 


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