According to the report, the regulator in the city of Hamburg is concerned that Facebook would use the data collected from WhatsApp to expand its marketing and advertising businesses. The company’s data protection guideline reportedly already states that it could aggregate data from users across all its services. It is now forcing WhatsApp users to comply with that policy.
The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Johannes Caspar, said that “there has not yet been any regulatory review of the actual processing operations between WhatsApp and Facebook that we are aware of. There is currently reason to believe that the provisions on data sharing between WhatsApp and Facebook should be enforced inadmissibly due to the lack of voluntary and informed consent.”
Caspar is seeking an immediately executable order before May 15th, which is when WhatsApp plans to enforce the new policy. However, Facebook will have the chance to respond to the allegations at a hearing, the Hamburg Commissioner said.
WhatsApp reportedly has around 60 million users in Germany. The German branch of Facebook is based in Hamburg.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Facebook said it is reviewing the correspondence it has received from the Hamburg regulator. The company “will address their misunderstandings around the purpose and effect of the update”. It remains “committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone.”
“To be clear, by accepting WhatsApp’s updated terms of service, users are not agreeing to any expansion in our ability to share data with Facebook, and the update does not impact the privacy of their messages with friends or family wherever they are in the world,” Facebook said.