France’s ultra-strict privacy watchdog CNIL has ordered WhatsApp to stop sharing user data with parent company Facebook. The app has a month to comply with the order, according to a public notice posted to the French website.
The query began after WhatsApp added to its terms of service last year that it shares data with Facebook to develop targeted advertising, security measures, and to gather business intelligence.
Upon investigating these claims, the CNIL ruled that while WhatsApp’s intention of improving security measures was valid, the app’s business intelligence reason wasn’t as acceptable. After all, WhatsApp never told its users it was collecting data for business intelligence and there’s no way to opt out without uninstalling the app. That violates “the fundamental freedoms of users,” said the CNIL.
European regulators have attempted to police Facebook in the past, especially when it comes to data-sharing. Germany ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users in September of last year, and in the UK, Facebook agreed to stop collecting WhatsApp user data in November of last year.
Then this May, Facebook was fined $122 million by the EU for providing “misleading information” about its acquisition of WhatsApp, when the company claimed that it would be unable to link profiles of users from WhatsApp to Facebook. And in September, the EU asked social media platforms including Facebook to crack down on hate speech — with the looming threat of legislation if the companies didn’t comply.