WhatsApp Won't Share UK User Data With Facebook (for Now)

Jeannie Matthews
March 15, 2018

Commissioner Elizabeth Denham explained her four findings. The UK ICO will continue to monitor WhatsApp's adherence to the undertaking, and most likely will reserve the right to re-open the investigation should concerns about data sharing arise going forward.

Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014 for $19bn (£13.6bn), and updated WhatApp's terms and conditions in August 2016 allowing businesses to send users messages and giving Facebook access to phone numbers to target users with tailored adverts.

The ICO said WhatsApp had "failed to provide adequate fair processing information to users in relation to any such sharing of personal data", adding that the sharing of such data "would involve the processing of personal data for a goal that is incompatible with the objective for which such data was obtained".

I found that if they had shared the data, they would have been in contravention of the first and second data protection principles of the Data Protection Act. At that point, WhatsApp and Facebook will be able to share data "for safety and security purposes" or to improve products and advertising, as long as the process of sharing that data complies with GDPR standards.

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"I reached the conclusion that an undertaking was the most effective regulatory tool for me to use, given the circumstances of the case", she wrote.

You also agree that your personal information may be transferred and processed in the United States, and that you have read and agree to the Terms of Use and the Privacy Policy.

Data protection law does not prevent a company from sharing personal data - they just have to follow the legal requirements.

The popular messaging app has signed a public pledge not to share any user's data with Facebook after the ICO ruled that doing so would be illegal under the data protection act and before the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May this year. Now, after being told that this was against the law by various governments - including the UK, France, Germany, and European Union - the Information Commissioner's office has made a ruling on the situation.

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