What­sapp sus­pends giv­ing Face­book Europe users data

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

SAN FRANCISCO: what­sapp has tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended giv­ing par­ent com­pany Face­book in­for­ma­tion about users in Europe for ad tar­get­ing, re­spond­ing to con­cerns there over pri­vacy, a source close to the mat­ter said Tues­day. Con­ver­sa­tions with of­fi­cials in Europe over the past few months re­sulted in the so­cial net­work de­cid­ing to only tap­ping into What­sapp user data there for pur­poses such as fight­ing spam, ac­cord­ing to the source.

The break was de­scribed as an ef­fort to give reg­u­la­tors time to share pri­vacy con­cerns and for Face­book to con­sider ways to ad­dress them. Ger­man data pro­tec­tion au­thor­i­ties in Septem­ber cited pri­vacy con­cerns when they blocked Face­book from col­lect­ing sub­scriber data from What­sapp there. “It has to be (the users’) de­ci­sion whether they want to con­nect their ac­count with Face­book,” Ham­burg’s Com­mis­sioner for Data Pro­tec­tion and Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Jo­hannes Cas­par said at the time.

“Face­book has to ask for their per­mis­sion in ad­vance.” What­sapp an­nounced in Au­gust that it would be­gin shar­ing data with Face­book, in a bid to al­low bet­ter tar­geted ad­ver­tis­ing and to com­bat spam on the plat­form. Users of the in­stant mes­sen­ger were given the abil­ity to opt out of send­ing in­for­ma­tion to Face­book through set­tings in What­sapp’s ap­pli­ca­tions on smart­phones. European data pro­tec­tion group G29 for­mally ex­pressed its con­cerns at the end of Oc­to­ber. The G29 sent let­ters ask­ing Face­book and What­sapp to stop shar­ing data un­til ap­pro­pri­ate le­gal safe­guards were in place.

The shar­ing of What­sapp user in­for­ma­tion with Face­book went be­yond what sub­scribers con­sented to in the orig­i­nal terms of ser­vice, the G29 rea­soned. Face­book bought What­sapp about two years ago in a deal val­ued about $19 bil­lion. In Midseptem­ber, the European Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended tighter pri­vacy and se­cu­rity re­quire­ments for ser­vices in­clud­ing What­sapp and Mi­crosoft-owned video call­ing ser­vice Skype, say­ing they should be reg­u­lated more like tra­di­tional tele­coms. Un­der the pro­posal, the com­mis­sion would re­quire com­pa­nies like What­sapp or Skype to of­fer emer­gency-call­ing ser­vices when cus­tomers dial tra­di­tional phone num­bers as well as obey stricter pri­vacy rules.—AFP

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