What you need to know
- Germany has banned Facebook from processing WhatsApp user data.
- Facebook's previous data protection scandals, such as Cambridge Analytica, are being raised as potential concerns, especially as Germany heads towards federal elections later this summer.
In a press release shared on Tuesday, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information argued that Facebook had no legal basis for processing WhatsApp user data, noting that "the contents [of the new policy] are misleading and show considerable contradictions" and that "consent is not freely given, since WhatsApp demands acceptance of the new provisions as a condition for the continued use of the service's functionalities."
Johannes Caspar, Hamburg's Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, said in comments:
The data protection scandals of recent years, from "Cambridge Analytica" to the recently disclosed data leak that affected more than 500 million Facebook users, show the extent and threats of mass profiling.
This concerns fundamental rights and also the possibility of using profiling to influence voter decisions in order to manipulate democratic decision-making processes.
Naturally, Facebook disputes this characterization of events.Android Central understands the company plans to explore its options for appealing the order while cooperating with any European Data Protection Board investigation that may follow.
When reached for comment, a WhatsApp spokesperson gaveAndroid Central the following:
The Hamburg DPA's order against Facebook is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of WhatsApp's update and therefore has no legitimate basis. Our recent update explains the options people have to message a business on WhatsApp and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. As the Hamburg DPA's claims are wrong, the order will not impact the continued roll-out of the update. We remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone.