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Facebook Ordered To Stop Collecting WhatsApp Users' Data In Germany

A German regulator orders Facebook to stop collecting data of WhatsApp users in the country and delete everything it has garnered to date.

This marks the first time that the company's new data-sharing plan announced in August received a regulatory filing against it.

Privacy watchdog of Germany has released a statement (PDF) to make the restrictions official, saying that it "constitutes an infringement of national data protection law," as the company didn't get the approval of the 35 million users in the country.

"The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information has issued an administrative order that prohibits Facebook with immediate effect to collect and store data of German WhatsApp users," an excerpt of it reads, but more than that, it continues to say that "Facebook is also ordered to delete all data that has already been forwarded by WhatsApp."

This is more or less an expected turn of events, as privacy groups have been vocal in filing complaints against the new scheme since WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook revealed it a month ago.

The new policy entails that the messaging app will share its users' data such as phone numbers with the social media network, and it'll grant businesses the capability of contacting users directly via the app.

After the news made the headlines, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC for short, published a blog post, saying that it's an "unfair and deceptive trade practice" that violates the Federal Trade Commission act.

Not soon after, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) also chimed in following the announcement, explaining what the new data-sharing plan has in store for users.

"While WhatsApp's privacy-friendly end-to-end encryption remains, and the company ensures users it will not share their data directly with advertisers, this nevertheless presents a clear threat to users' control of how their WhatsApp data is shared and used," the EFF said.

This development comes as a bit of a surprise to some, as WhatsApp CEO and cofounder Jan Koum assured users that Facebook's acquisition of the messaging app won't put their privacy and security in jeopardy.

"Make no mistake: our future partnership with Facebook will not compromise the vision that brought us to this point. Our focus remains on delivering the promise of WhatsApp far and wide, so that people around the world have the freedom to speak their mind without fear," the executive said back in March 2014.

If you have an opinion regarding the way Facebook and WhatsApp are handling the users' privacy of the messaging app, don't hesitate to leave a comment below.

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