UK ICO wants WhatsApp to give users more control over shared information

The UK’s information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has taken to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) blog to provide a status update on the WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing situation.

Denham says she’s pleased that Facebook has agreed to pause using data from UK WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes, following the ICO clearly explaining the law to Facebook. Despite this the ICO wants users to have more control over their data, but Facebook is yet to agree to this.

On the ICO blog, Denham wrote:

“We have now asked Facebook and WhatsApp to sign an undertaking committing to better explaining to customers how their data will be used, and to giving users ongoing control over that information. We also want individuals to have the opportunity to be given an unambiguous choice before Facebook start using that information and to be given the opportunity to change that decision at any point in the future. We think consumers deserve a greater level of information and protection, but so far Facebook and WhatsApp haven’t agreed. If Facebook starts using the data without valid consent, it may face enforcement action from my office.”

With regards to enforcement action, the ICO could find Facebook in breach of the Data Protection Act. If this happens, the social media firm might find itself paying a £500,000 fine. If Facebook fails to agree to implement extra user controls it is likely that the ICO could fine the company, with Denham being of the opinion that WhatsApp hasn’t got the valid consent of its users to share the information.

Source: Information Commissioners Office

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