CNIL, France’s privacy watchdog, has ordered WhatsApp to cease its data sharing with Facebook. It does that because Facebook is its parent company. WhatsApp has been given a month to comply with CNIL’s order, according to a notice posted on the watchdog’s website. It started looking into the data sharing practice after WhatsApp confirmed that it had updated its terms of service to notify users that it will share data with Facebook.
WhatsApp says that it shares data with Facebook to develop security measures and targeted advertising. It also does that to gather business intelligence.
The regulator’s notice mentions that it repeatedly asked WhatsApp to provide a sample of French users’ data that was transferred to Facebook. The company replied that it couldn’t provide the sample to CNIL as it’s located in the United States and that it’s only subject to the legislation of the U.S.
CNIL’s investigation found that WhatsApp’s claim of improving security measures by sharing data with its parent company is valid but that the business intelligence claim can’t be accepted. It mentions that there’s no way for users to opt-out of this without uninstalling the app and that violates the “fundamental freedoms of users,” according to CNIL.
CNIL isn’t the first European regulator to go after Facebook/WhatsApp for data sharing. Germany ordered the social network to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users in September last year. Facebook also agreed to stop doing that in the United Kingdom back in November 2016.