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UK's information commissioner responds to WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing

Elizabeth Denham, the UK's Information Commissioner, has issued a statement about the changes Facebook has made to WhatsApp's privacy policy and ToS agreements. The ICO will investigate to make sure the changes stick to the guidelines set out in the Data Protection Act. The new agreements allow for more sharing between the Facebook platform, WhatsApp, and other Facebook-owned companies.

Denham decided it best to investigate further into the new arrangements because of the sheer number of people who might be affected by the changes. Her statement reads:

“Our role is to pull back the curtain on things like this, ensuring that companies are being transparent with the public about how their personal data is being shared, and protecting consumers by making sure the law is being followed.”

She noted that organisations don't generally need to specifically tell the ICO but that they should stay within the data protection laws. She said:

“We've been informed of the changes. Organisations do not need to get prior approval from the ICO to change their approaches, but they do need to stay within data protection laws. We are looking into this.”

Normally, when a company updates any of its agreements, users have to accept them outright before being allowed to continue using the service. The new changes introduced by WhatsApp have been quite user-friendly in allowing existing users to opt out of some of the sharing, which Neowin detailed how to do.

If the ICO finds out that the new changes are in breach of the Data Protection Act, Facebook (which owns WhatsApp) could find itself with a hefty fine of £500,000 from the body.

Source: ICO via BBC News

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