Back in February it was announced that Facebook had agreed to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion. Privacy advocates raised their voice against the deal and even called upon the FTC to look into the deal. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today signed off on the sale, clearing the way for Facebook to absorb the most widely used cross platform messaging service in the world. Though the FTC warned both companies that they must continue to honor their privacy obligations.
After the acquisition was announced, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum took to the company’s blog and made some promises to users with regards to data privacy. Jessica Rich, FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection director said that it must honor all promises made about the nature of data collected, “promises that exceed the protections currently promised to Facebook users.”
Both companies will risk violating FTC regulations should they fail to hold up their end of the bargain after the deal finally closes. The Commission says that Facebook must ensure that its not in violation of the law or FTC’s order before changing WhatsApp’s privacy practises.
FTC also urges WhatsApp to give users the option to opt out if it abruptly changes the way it collects, uses and shares data with third parties, if not, then make it clear “that they have an opportunity to stop using the WhatsApp service.”
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