Concerned over data privacy of its citizens, France’s privacy watchdog has issued formal notice to WhatsApp, asking the popular mobile messaging app to stop sharing user data with the parent company Facebook within a month.
If WhatsApp fails to comply with the formal notice within the specified time scale, the Chair of the National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) may issue a sanction against the company, CNIL said in a statement late on Monday.
“While the security purpose seems to be essential to the efficient functioning of the application, it is not the case for the ‘business intelligence’ purpose which aims at improving performances and optimizing the use of the application through the analysis of its users’ behaviour,” noted Chair of the CNIL.
The watchdog considered that the data transfer for “business intelligence” purpose is not based on the legal basis required by the Data Protection Act for any processing. It then decided to send a formal public notice in order to ensure the highest level of transparency on the massive data transfer from WhatsApp to Facebook Inc. and, thus, to alert to the need for individuals concerned to keep their data under control.
The consent is not validly collected because:
- it is not specific to this purpose – when installing the application, users must accept that their data are processed for the messaging service, but also, in general, by FACEBOOK Inc. for accessory purposes such as the improvement of its service.
- it is not free – the only way to refuse the data transfer for “business intelligence” purpose is to uninstall the application.
On the other hand, the company WhatsApp cannot claim a legitimate interest to massively transfer data to the company FACEBOOK Inc. insofar as this transfer does not provide adequate guarantees allowing to preserve the interest or the fundamental freedoms of users since there is no mechanism whereby they can refuse it while continuing to use the application.