Daily Management Review

Whatsapp, Yahoo Warned on Privacy by EU Data Protection Watchdogs


10/31/2016




Whatsapp, Yahoo Warned on Privacy by EU Data Protection Watchdogs
Yahoo was cautioned over a 2014 data breach and scanning of customer emails for U.S. intelligence purposes and WhatsApp was also warned over sharing user information with parent company Facebook by European privacy watchdogs.
 
The attention of regulatory scrutiny in Europe has been drawn towards the first policy change since WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 where the popular messaging service's recent change in privacy policy is to start sharing users' phone numbers with Facebook.
 
Until the "appropriate legal protections could be assured" to avoid falling foul of EU data protection law, the European Union's 28 data protection authorities had requested WhatsApp stop sharing users' data with Facebook, the agency said in a statement.
 
Questions about the validity of users' consent known as the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) were raised by WhatsApp's new privacy policy involves the sharing of information with Facebook for purposes that were not included in the terms of service when users signed up, the authorities said.
 
The company was working with data protection authorities to address their questions, a spokeswoman for WhatsApp said.
 
"We’ve had constructive conversations, including before our update, and we remain committed to respecting applicable law,” she said.
 
In the past, over its processing of users' data, Facebook has had run-ins with European privacy watchdogs. However, in comparison to the revenues of the big U.S. tech companies concerned, the fines that regulators can levy are paltry.
 
In addition to Yahoo’s scanning of customers' incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, the company’s massive data breach that exposed the email credentials of 500 million users were parts of the issue of a letter that the EU data protection authorities wrote to Yahoo about.
 
The Yahoo was asked by the EU data protection authorities to cooperate with all "upcoming national data protection authorities' enquiries and/or investigations, to notify the affected users of the "adverse effects" and to communicate all aspects of the data breach to the EU authorities.
 
"The reports (about email scanning) are concerning to WP29 and it will be important to understand the legal basis and justification for any such surveillance activity, including an explanation of how this is compatible with EU law and protection for EU citizens," the watchdogs said in their letter to Yahoo. Yahoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
The regulators will discuss the Yahoo and WhatsApp cases in November.
  
Meanwhile, a separate probe into whether WhatsApp obliged users to agree to sharing personal data with Facebook was announced by the Italian antitrust watchdog earlier on Friday.
 
The antitrust watchdog is probing whether messaging service WhatsApp imposed "unfair" conditions on users and obliged users to agree to sharing personal data with its parent company Facebook.
 
European regulators were prompted to declare they would put the matter under close scrutiny after WhatsApp said in August it would start sharing phone numbers with the social network.
 
Whether the WhatsApp application had led users to believe they would have not been able to continue using it unless they agreed to terms and conditions including the sharing of personal data is the issue  that the Italian agency was investigating.
 
(Source:www.reuters.com) 






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