WhatsApp pledges to UK it won’t share data with Facebook, government drops enquiry

The UK Information Commissioner has dropped an investigation into Facebook-owned WhatsApp after the messaging service agreed to not share users personal data with its parent company until it can do so in compliance with an upcoming law.

During Elizabeth Denham’s probe, she found that the company could not legally justify any of its user data transfer, nor did it provide users with due notice of transfer. The data that was passed on was not used in conjunction with its original intent of collection. Denham had yet to conclude that WhatsApp shared user data with Facebook. If she had, though, WhatsApp would have been in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Denham’s investigation did not entail data that was shared from WhatsApp to Facebook on a pure support basis.

The company has now agreed to an “undertaking” that prohibits it from sharing user data with Facebook and its subsidiaries until it has processes to transfer data that comply with the General Data Protection Regulation — rules that dictate what disclosures companies have to make to individuals, what records it has to keep of data gained, moved and lost and other facets of security and privacy safeguarding.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, but has operated it as only a messenger service separate from service developments it has made to products like Facebook Messenger and to its advertising database.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.