The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office or ICO has barred WhatsApp from sharing user information to its parent firm Facebook. While the above has been deemed illegal under UK laws, the two companies have been allowed to share data needed for some basic processing.
The ICO has also stated they aren’t against companies sharing personal data of its users so long as it is done as per existing laws. In fact, WhatsApp has been holding back on sharing of any user info in the UK since November last year after the ICO objected to the same.
With the investigations now closed, what has come to the fore is that WhatsApp has indeed been into some sort of a mess with user’s data. For instance, it hasn’t been able to offer users enough credible justifications for sharing of user info with Facebook, or whether if it at all fulfills the very reason the info has been obtained from users in the first place.
However, there are no financial liabilities for WhatsApp to pay heed to as it never actually shared user data. That said, the messaging firm had to furnish an undertaking declaring that will continue to hold back on sharing data of any user within the EU. This will be in place till the new General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR comes into force on May 25. Post that, it would share data only in compliance with the GDPR.
Besides the UK, France too has expressed its reservations about WhatsApp sharing user data with Facebook. Like in the UK, WhatsApp has also been forced to stop sharing ot information since December last.
Further, while these are a country-specific objection to sharing of user information between WhatsApp and Facebook, the implementation of the new GDPR will establish a more unified legal framework for sharing of information across the entire European Union. The new law will also provide more powers to the users to decide how and to what extent companies will be entitled to using user details.
WhatsApp meanwhile has reiterated its commitment to the safeguarding of user privacy at the highest level. It also stated they use end-to-end encryption technologies to ensure user chats remain private with not even their own employees able to go through those.