WhatsApp's recent decision to share user data with parent company Facebook is quickly turning into a full blown privacy scandal. If you are not in the know about the move, it basically comes down to a change in terms and conditions that will enable sharing some WhatsApp info, like online status and your phone number with Facebook. According to official statements, this will help Facebook improve its friends suggestions and ad accuracy, among other things and will not affect the encryption and protection of WhatsApp conversations.
Elizabeth Denham, the currently appointed UK ICO, commented on the matter today.
We’ve been informed of the changes. Organisations do not need to get prior approval from the ICO to change their approaches, but they do need to stay within data protection laws. We are looking into this. … “The changes WhatsApp and Facebook are making will affect a lot of people. Some might consider it’ll give them a better service, others may be concerned by the lack of control. Our role is to pull back the curtain on things like this, ensuring that companies are being transparent with the public about how their personal data is being shared, and protecting consumers by making sure the law is being followed
This is actually just one of the points an organization called the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) claims violates the Federal Trade Commission consent order withing the US. According to the latter, a company must obtain opt-in consent before asking a user to agree to new terms and conditions. This is a direct stab at What'sApp's current approach, which offer users a 30 day opt-out option, which indeed is not exactly the same thing. So, Facebook seems to be under a lot of heat from two major markets now with probably more EU trouble still on the horizon.
Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook to improve my Facebook ads and products experiences. Your chats and phone number will not be shared onto Facebook regardless of this setting.
What this actually means is that Facebook won't be sharing you chats and phone number publicly, although it will still keep record of the latter internally. And as far as the chats par goes, well, we just have to take their word for it. In our opinion, that could have easily be phrased better.
Tell us your thoughts on the issue in the comment section.
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