CNIL orders WhatsApp to stop sharing data with Facebook


France's privacy watchdog, on Monday issued a formal notice to WhatsApp, asking the messaging app to stop sharing user data with Facebook.

The app has a month to comply with the order, according to a public notice posted to the French website. The CNIL (National Data Protection Commission) issued the Facebook-owned company with formal notice to cease violations of the French Data Protection Act, suggesting that user consent was not properly obtained.

In October, European Union privacy regulators rapped WhatsApp for not resolving their concerns over the messaging service's sharing of user data with Facebook a year after they first issued a warning.

What worsened the situation was that WhatsApp declined to provide data transfer samples after repeated requests from the CNIL.

WhatsApp was found to share information about users, such as their phone number or their use habits on the application.

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"While the security objective seems to be essential to the efficient functioning of the application, it is not the case for the "business intelligence" goal which aims at improving performances and optimizing the use of the application through the analysis of its users' behavior". The authority rejected arguments by WhatsApp that it is subject only to the law of the USA, saying that it becomes the authority in charge the moment any company is processing data in France.

Commenting on the issue CNIL further said, "The company explained that it could not supply the sample requested by the CNIL since it is located in the U.S., it considers that it is only subject to the legislation of this (US) country". This is not the first time the company has been slammed for collecting data.

As such, the Chair of the CNIL has ordered WhatsApp to bring itself into compliance with the Data Protection Act within one month, and no further action will be taken if the company meets the deadline.

Upon investigating the claims, CNIL ruled that WhatsApp never told its users it was collecting data for business intelligence and there is no way to opt out of this infringement without uninstalling the app.