WhatsApp Fined $267 Million for Not Being Transparent About Data Sharing with Facebook
(Photo : Image from Unsplash Website) WhatsApp Fined $267 Million for Not Being Transparent About Data Sharing with Facebook

WhatsApp was just slapped with a 255 million euro fine or $267 million USD fine after GDPR investigation conducted by Ireland's official Data Privacy Commissioner or DPC found out that the platform was not transparent regarding how it shared data with its parent company, Facebook.

GDPR Transparency on WhatsApp Services

The investigation reportedly started in December 2018 and also examined whether WhatsApp has been able to discharge its GDPR transparency obligations with regard to the actual provisions of information as well as the transparency of the information towards both users as well as non-users of WhatsApp's services. WhatsApp got a $267 million fine, according to DataProtection.

The DPC noted in a statement that this includes information that is provided to the data subject as well as the processing of information between WhatsApp as well as other Facebook companies. The DPC has also initially submitted its decisions back in December 2020 but actually faced backlash from eight different EU regulating bodies due to the fine being considered as too small at just 50 million euros or over $59 million USD. WhatsApp has ended support for a number of devices, check them out.

DPC Statements on WhatsApp

By the end of July 2021, the European Data Protection Board actually decided to force the DPC to increase the proposed fine up to 225 million euros or over $267 million USD. The DPC added that in addition to the imposition of the administrative fine, the DPC has reportedly also imposed a reprimand along with another order for WhatsApp in order to bring its processing into compliance through taking a range of specified remedial actions.

The DPC reportedly found that WhatsApp, which already has over two billion monthly users, has violated sections 5(1)(a); 12, 13, and also 14 of the GDPR by not actually being transparent regarding data it was able to collect from both users and non-users. Regulators reportedly took issue with the technical ways that WhatsApp processed the user data as well as the way that those processes are explained in its own privacy policies.

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WhatsApp on Transparency

WhatsApp currently has three months in order to make changes to its official transparency. The fine is reportedly the second largest ever issued after the whole 886.6 million euro or over $1 billion USD fine that was handed down to Amazon in July 2021. Experts, however, noted that WhatsApp and Facebook will spend a number of years in court fighting the fine before it will ever be paid.

According to the story by ZDnet, WhatsApp reportedly called the fines "disproportionate" in a certain statement and noted that it is committed to providing a secure and private service. A European privacy expert and chair of non-profit noyb.eu, Max Schrems, noted in a statement that the fine was actually a step forward for privacy regulations but also criticized the DPC for waiting this long in order to issue a fine. As of the moment, for those that want to switch from WhatsApp, Microsoft teams are also being considered.

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Written by Urian B.

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