That was really fast. It’s been less than two months since WhatsApp announced that it was going to be sharing some user data with its parent company; Facebook. Following that, there was outrage with some of them being misguided which prompted us to further explain to some users that this was indeed true but not what some painted it to be.
But today, a German regulator has now asked WhatsApp not to share the data of 35 million German WhatsApp users with Facebook. The New York Times reports that the city of Hamburg’s data protection commissioner ordered Facebook on Tuesday to stop collecting and storing data on WhatsApp users in Germany, the first time a privacy watchdog has waded into the debate. The regulator also called on the social network to delete all information already forwarded from WhatsApp on roughly 35 million German users.
Facebook on its part after the order said it had complied with Europe’s privacy rules. It also added that it would work with the German authorities to address their concern eventually. Facebook has an office in Hamburg which is why the ruling came from there in the first place.
This is the latest in the number of American tech companies that have wither come under scrutiny or are being investigated in Europe.
YouTube, Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are all either being investigated or rulings have been passed as is the case of Google being ordered to allow user’s records to be permanently deleted from its server in what is known as “right to be forgotten”. There is the pending case of Apple being ordered to pay back $14b in taxes that was given to it in what European authorities termed “illegal state aid”.
There has been outrage since the announcement by WhatsApp to share data like telephone numbers with Facebook which Facebook will in turn use for targeted marketing. My bet is that similar rulings are coming not just from Europe but other parts of the world as well.