Privacy Groups Call For Review Of Facebook-WhatsApp Deal

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and Center for Digital Democracy both based in Washington D.C. filed a joint complaint with the Federal Trade Commission seeking review of Facebook’s proposed $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp until there is a clearer understanding of how the company aspires to use the personal data of WhatsApp’s 450 million users who exchange private messages through the service.

EPIC further asks that the regulators order Facebook to safeguard WhatsApp users’ information from access by Facebook’s data collection methods

EPIC further asks that the regulators order Facebook to safeguard WhatsApp users’ information from access by Facebook’s data collection methods

The complaint asks the Federal Trade Commission to specifically investigate Facebook’s ability to access WhatsApp’s store of user mobile phone numbers and metadata. And if the deal is through, EPIC further asks that the regulators order Facebook to safeguard WhatsApp users’ information from access by Facebook’s data collection methods.

Facebook, the world’s No.1 social network with 1.2 billion users had insisted in the wake of the deal that WhatsApp will operate as a separate entity, but industry experts point out that the company’s business model relies on targeting members with advertisements based on their age, gender and their online activity. The complaint further states that Facebook in the past has gathered data from Instagram, a photo-sharing service it acquired in 2012.

The practices are deceptive, the groups allege, because users sign on to social networks with the hope that privacy policies won’t change.  Privacy was one of WhatsApp’s biggest selling points, which doesn’t place ads in its app and doesn’t store user data for advertising purposes.

However, the privacy groups in their complaint say there’s no guarantee that that commitment will hold true once the service becomes part of Facebook.

The technology industry was taken by surprise last month when Facebook announced its intention to buy the five-year old WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock. While WhatsApp does not collect user names, emails and other contact information, it charges some of its users a $1 annual fee to use the service. Founded in 2009, WhatsApp’s worldwide user base has expanded faster than any other social media or Internet firm. It has now over taken Twitter, Instagram and Skype, and more than 70 percent of its users use the nearly free messaging app several times in a day.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s previous complaints have resulted in Federal Trade Commission actions against Google’s acquisition of the ad service Doubleclick, Microsoft Passport, and also changes to Facebook’s privacy policies.

The deal might also undergo scrutiny by regulators in Europe, where WhatsApp is already popular. Last year, the company ran into trouble with Dutch and Canadian officials saying WhatsApp breached foreign privacy laws by requiring users to disclose their contacts’ mobile phone numbers.

 

Anna Domanska
Anna Domanska is an Industry Leaders Magazine author possessing wide-range of knowledge for Business News. She is an avid reader and writer of Business and CEO Magazines and a rigorous follower of Business Leaders.

Recent Posts

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet set to cover the globe soon

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet set to cover the globe soon

Starlink, the satellite internet unit of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, will most likely be able to provide global coverage by September, according to the company’s president Gwynne S
17 hours ago
At the next Krispy Kreme IPO, the donut maker aims to raise nearly $4 billion

At the next Krispy Kreme IPO, the donut maker aims to raise nearly $4 billion

Krispy Kreme, the popular donut chain, aims raise roughly $4 billion as it makes one of the biggest IPO debuts at the NYSE.
18 hours ago
Panasonic hopes Blue Yonder acquisition will improve its software woes

Panasonic hopes Blue Yonder acquisition will improve its software woes

Most Japanese major companies, which at one time were leaders in consumer electronics, are struggling to find their feet in a world that has moved to digital software. Electronics
1 day ago
Ikea and Rockefeller Foundations to raise $10 billion for renewable energy projects in poor countries

Ikea and Rockefeller Foundations to raise $10 billion for renewable energy projects in poor countries

The Ikea and Rockefeller foundations are jointly launching a $10 billion fund to promote small-scale renewable power projects in developing nations. Both
3 days ago
EC initiates another probe into Google’s adtech practices

EC initiates another probe into Google’s adtech practices

EU antitrust regulators are planning a formal investigation into Google’s digital advertising practices by the end of this year. Google is already facing unprecedented regulatory
3 days ago
Some Microsoft employees stayed at data centers during Pandemic to keep all systems going

Some Microsoft employees stayed at data centers during Pandemic to keep all systems going

The Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the world for more than a year has forced companies and organizations to find viable solutions to keep the business going. Most found a solution in w
4 days ago