Monday

16th Jul 2018

WhatsApp's data gathering probed

  • A German privacy watchdog has ordered Facebook to delete all data it has collected via WhatsApp (Photo: Spencer E Holtaway)

A German privacy watchdog has ordered Facebook to stop the intrusive collection of data from users of its WhatsApp messaging service.

Hamburg's data protection commissioner Johannes Caspar issued an administrative order on Tuesday (26 September) prohibiting Facebook “with immediate effect” from collecting and storing data of German WhatsApp users - roughly 35 million people.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

“It has to be their decision, whether they want to connect their account with Facebook," Caspar said in a statement.

He noted Facebook had not asked their permission in advance in violation of German privacy laws. WhatsApp also uploads contact details from the user's address book.

Caspar's administrative order requires Facebook to delete all data that has been forwarded by WhatsApp.

The US giant acquired WhatsApp two years ago and then announced data would not be shared between them.

WhatsApp updated its terms and conditions recently and included a clause allowing users' data to be shared with Facebook.

“The fact that this is now happening is not only misleads their users and the public, but also constitutes an infringement of national data protection law,” he said.

Data authorities in Italy are also looking into similar WhatsApp privacy violation issues.

On Tuesday, they asked both Facebook and WhatsApp to disclose what is being shared and if users had consented to releasing the data, reported Italian news agency ANSA.

An outstanding legal case between the US social media giant's Irish subsidiary and Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems helped dismantle a transatlantic data trade pact last October.

The pact has since been replaced with the so-called Privacy Shield that is supposed to maintain data protection level standards of EU citizens whenever their data is used by US-based based companies.

Schrems wants to launch a class action suit against Facebook Ireland with the backing of some 25,000 users.

The Brussels-based European Digital Rights Initiative nominated Facebook for its forthcoming Big Brother Award as the "worst privacy abuser".

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Polish PM defends judicial witch-hunt

Poland's judicial purge was meant to punish former communists, its PM has said, in an angry EU debate that saw him ultimately promise to respect EU court rulings.

EU leaders still in search of migration plan

Select EU leaders met amid rising tension over migration, with Italy's PM, who had threatened to boycott the summit, putting forward a new plans to stop boats from leaving Libya.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

News in Brief

  1. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  2. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  3. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  4. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  5. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  6. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  7. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit
  8. Trump wades into Brexit after Nato fiasco

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us