Irish commission fined WhatsApp €5.5 Mn for violating Data Protection Laws
The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has imposed fines of €5.5 million against Meta’s WhatsApp for violating data protection laws when processing users’ personal information. WhatsApp has also been ordered to bring its operations into compliance within a period of six months.
The complaint alleged that WhatsApp breached the regulation by compelling its users to consent to the processing of their personal data for service improvement and security by making the accessibility of its services conditional on users accepting the updated Terms of Service.
The penalty comes two weeks after the DPC fined Meta €390 million over its handling of user data for serving personalized ads in Facebook and Instagram, giving the company three months to find a valid legal basis for processing personal data for behavioral advertising.
The DCP said, “WhatsApp Ireland is not entitled to rely on the contract legal basis for the delivery of service improvement and security.” It also added that the data collected so far amounts to a contravention of GDPR.
The complainant, privacy non-profit NOYB’s Max Schrems said, “WhatsApp says it’s encrypted, but this is only true for the content of chats – not the metadata. WhatsApp still knows who you chat with most and at what time. This allows Meta to get a very close understanding of the social fabric around you. Meta uses this information to, for example, target ads that friends were already interested in. It seems the DPC has now simply refused to decide on this matter, despite 4.5 years of investigations.”
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