EU accuses Facebook of being misleading about WhatsApp data sharing

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The European Commission has now charged Facebook with being somewhat misleading about the privacy implications of its takeover of WhatsApp initiated two years ago.

The commission noted that Facebook’s updated privacy policy for WhatsApp indicated it would be able to match user numbers of WhatsApp users to details of their associated Facebook account, something the firm had previously said would not be able to be reliably implemented.

In today’s Statement of Objections, the Commission takes the preliminary view that, contrary to Facebook’s statements and reply during the merger review, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users’ IDs with WhatsApp users’ IDs already existed in 2014

The Commission therefore views this as “incorrect” or “misleading” information, and has charged Facebook with this, giving them up until January 31 to give a response in their defense. If Facebook is unable to convince the European Commission that their assessment of their capabilities was given in good faith, they will be fined up to 1% of their annual turnover.

According to Reuters, a Facebook spokesperson gave the following response.

“We respect the Commission’s process and are confident that a full review of the facts will confirm Facebook has acted in good faith,

We’ve consistently provided accurate information about our technical capabilities and plans, including in submissions about the WhatsApp acquisition and in voluntary briefings before WhatsApp’s privacy policy update this year

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