WhatsApp Pauses Data Sharing With Facebook In UK, EU

This past summer, WhatsApp, the messaging service owned by Facebook, opted to share data on its users with Facebook, but that data sharing is now paused, at least in Europe.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook has agreed to pause the data sharing between WhatsApp and Facebook in the U.K. and all 28 European Union member states after ICO, the data protection watchdog, launched an investigation into the practice.

“I had concerns that consumers weren’t being properly protected, and it’s fair to say the enquiries my team have made haven’t changed that view. I don’t think users have been given enough information about what Facebook plans to do with their information, and I don’t think WhatsApp has got valid consent from users to share the information. I also believe users should be given ongoing control over how their information is used, not just a 30-day window,” wrote Elizabeth Denham, the U.K. information commissioner, in a blog post covered by TechCrunch. “We’ve set out the law clearly to Facebook, and we’re pleased that they’ve agreed to pause using data from U.K. WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes.”

With the updated WhatsApp privacy policy, users can choose not to share their data with Facebook, but they have to click to read the terms and turn the sharing option off. They are also given 30 days to revoke consent for sharing. Still, Denham said the ICO wants Facebook and WhatsApp to be more clear about how the data will be used, warning it could face enforcement action if changes aren’t made.

WhatsApp designed its privacy policy and terms update to give users a clear and simple explanation of how the service works, as well as choice over how their data is used. These updates comply with applicable law and follow the latest guidance from the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office,” Facebook said in a statement to TechCrunch.