Privacy groups to FTC: Block the Facebook purchase of WhatsApp

Facebook may want to buy the WhatsApp messaging company for a whopping $19 billion, but in a formal complaint filed on Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission, two non-profit privacy groups want the deal stopped.

The complaint, filed by the The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, claims that Facebook's policies run counter to WhatsApp's stance on offering privacy for users of its service. EPIC stated: 

Our complaint urges the FTC to investigate whether there are sufficient privacy protections in place to continue to shield the data of WhatsApp users from access by Facebook -- which (for many users) was the very feature that made WhatsApp so appealing in the first place.

Facebook sent a statement to CNet saying WhatsApp will be run as a separate company once their purchase has been completed and "will honor its commitments to privacy and security."

WhatsApp was formed after its co-founder Brian Acton got turned down for a job at Facebook in 2009. He and ex-Yahoo team member Jan Koum launched the first version of WhatsApp later that year. The service now has 450 million users on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian and Nokia Asha platforms.

Source: EPIC via CNet | Image via WhatsApp

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I uninstalled Whatsapp the moment the story originally broke. I don't want anything to do with Thefacebook, even if that means ditching a decent app.

cantoris said,
I uninstalled Whatsapp the moment the story originally broke. I don't want anything to do with Thefacebook, even if that means ditching a decent app.

Exactly. This is what these people should do. There is choice out there.

What does it take for people to realize that ANYTHING they put out on the Internet becomes part of the public forum? Any expectation of privacy is a vain hope.

Unless it is part of a public profile user data submitted to WhatsApp is not in the public domain and FB shouldn't have access to it so it can be sold to marketers and spammers.

Whilst I agree with most people here saying that there's really no point in intervening I can't help but feel the privacy group have a point, I mean legally facebook could in fact purchase your local law firm and thus gain access to your personal information, not something I'd be exactly happy about.

As they said, many users of whatapp signed up to avoid facebook. Even so, there should be a legal entitlement for people to be able to remove their personal information in the event of an acquisition. Not just for facebook, either.


Romero said,
Do they give a #### about the FTC though? I can bet if the sale is blocked those stockholders are going to notice.

Thats what I ment; They dont give a #### about these groups. They just want the sale to pass.