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Germany - Facebook is not permitted to process WhatsApp personal data

Germany – Facebook is not permitted to process WhatsApp personal data

According to an order from Hamburg Data Protection Officer Johannes Kaspar, Facebook is no longer permitted at first to process personal data from Germany’s Whatsapp messenger. The body responsible for Facebook in Germany announced, on Tuesday, that there is no sufficient legal basis for this.

Specifically, it is about updating WhatsApp’s terms of use. This aims to enable the messaging service to share user data with parent Facebook and other actors belonging to the group such as Instagram. The request in the expedition procedure that was opened in April based on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is valid for a maximum of three months. In order to make a decision at the European level, a referral has been requested from the European Data Protection Board (EDPB).

Securing the rights and freedoms of users

Whatsapp has nearly 60 million users in Germany. Caspar explained that it was about securing the rights and freedoms of these users and pointed to previous data scandals such as Cambridge Analytica and the increased risk of influence in light of the upcoming federal elections. The authority criticized that the provisions relating to the transfer of data were scattered at different levels of the Declaration of Data Protection, and were unclear and it was difficult to distinguish between its European and international versions. Facebook recently seized the opportunity to hear the issue. Now a Whatsapp spokesperson said the order is based on a “fundamental misunderstanding” about the purpose of the new terms of use and thus has no “legitimate basis”. There will be no changes to the introduction of the new terms of use.

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Whatsapp announced this in January – thus sparking global outrage, which is why Whatsapp postponed its entry into force until May. If users do not agree, they will no longer be able to use the service. Whatsapp is sticking to this despite criticism from privacy advocates. They complained that the consent was neither transparent nor voluntary. Messenger competitors like Telegram and Signal have recently seen strong growth.(Reuters)