EU Warns WhatsApp & Yahoo Over Privacy Concerns

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recent months have been quite turbulent as far as online privacy issues are concerned. First, there was WhatsApp who announced that they'd start sharing user data with their parent company Facebook. Given how WhatsApp is one of the most popular instant messaging apps on the planet, the fact that its developers decided to start disclosing users' phone numbers and some analytics data to one of the largest advertising businesses on the planet certainly raised some concerns. However troubling, this decision was overshadowed by Yahoo's pair of scandals. The Californian firm first revealed that it suffered a massive data breach back in 2014 which compromised approximately 500 million users. Claims of non-financial interests and foreign governments being behind the attack certainly didn't help calm things down, but Yahoo made them anyway. To make matters even worse, that revelation was promptly followed by another scandal after Reuters reported that Yahoo made a secret spying network which scanned users' emails on request of the US government.

While both WhatsApp and Yahoo are American companies, they also have hundreds of millions of users in Europe, so their privacy policies and related incidents also affect natives of the Old continent. That's why earlier today, 28 data protection supervisors of the European Union known as the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) made a joint statement in which they've warned both Internet companies to tread carefully when it comes to issues related to user privacy, specifically mentioning the aforementioned concerns. More specifically, WhatsApp was requested to instantly stop sharing data with its parent company until the EU enacts "appropriate legal protections" which would regulate such behavior. As for Yahoo, the WP29 demanded that the Internet company discloses all information regarding the data breach, makes sure to notify affected users, and prepares for an official EU investigation into the matter. The data protection watchdog also stated that a separate investigation into reports of Yahoo's surveillance endeavors will likely be launched shortly, adding that such an activity needs a firm legal basis which it doesn't seem to have.

While Yahoo are reported to have declined to comment on this statement, WhatsApp's representatives were quick to announce full cooperation with the WP29 and related EU authorities, Reuters reports. In addition to that, the Facebook-owned company stated it's been openly communicating with European data protection agencies even before the controversial privacy policy update, possibly suggesting that an official warning such as this one wasn't necessary.

Advertisement