Economy

WhatsApp users in United Kingdom, you can heave a sigh of relief

WhatsApp users in United Kingdom, you can heave a sigh of relief

Given that Facebook owns WhatsApp, we expect that eventually both platforms would cross paths with each other.

ICO has completed an investigation, which commenced in August 2016, into whether WhatsApp could legally share users' data with Facebook.

Remember how WhatsApp vowed that it will never share user data with Facebook when Mark Zuckerberg and Co. announced the multi-billion dollar purchase of the popular chat app a few years ago?

Britain's privacy watchdog said it had dropped an investigation into WhatsApp after the messaging service signed an undertaking not to share the personal data of users with its owner Facebook.

Ms Denham added she was pleased WhatsApp had signed the agreement to cease sharing until it can do so in compliance with the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to come into force in May.

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"WhatsApp also failed to provide adequate fair processing information to users in relation to any such sharing of personal data", the ICO investigation revealed. The technical term for such sharing is that WhatsApp can use Facebook as a data processor.

"I compliment WhatsApp in signing this undertaking, which I believe will build trust amongst their many United Kingdom users", added Denham."I would also like to stress that signing an undertaking is not the end of story and I will closely monitor WhatsApp's adherence to it".

Matters were not helped by the fact that WhatsApp founder Jan Koum had denied at the time of the acquisition in 2014, that WhatsApp would have to follow Facebook's privacy policies. After their investigation, ICO reported that WhatsApp and Facebook can not share data beyond WhatsApp using Facebook for basic data processing. In Germany, the Hamburg Commissioner of Data Protection and Freedom of Information also released information this month saying that the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) Hamburg had also put on hold on activities by Facebook thus restraining Facebook from using data provided by WhatsApp.

Facebook settled with the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), according to TechCrunch, and the latter closed its investigation. So technically ICO couldn't object to WhatsApp as long as the company used Facebook as a "data processor". This is common practice and if done consistently with the law, under contract, does not generally raise data protection concerns. Crucially, WhatsApp built its reputation on setting itself apart from social services like Facebook and its reliance on advertising, and all the data manipulation the comes along with that. "We will be monitoring changes to WhatsApp's privacy and terms and conditions under the new legislation", she said.

After the events, we are sure that WhatsApp is reshaping their privacy policy to make it compliant with the GDPR.