From the blog

GERMANY: Data Regulator Bans Facebook From Using WhatsApp User’s Data

German data watchdog has ordered Facebook to stop processing user data from its instant messaging service WhatsApp due to a recent privacy policy update that violated European data protection rules. 

Johannes Caspar, data protection commissioner in Hamburg, the city where Facebook has its German headquarters, issued the order on Tuesday banning the social media giant from processing German users’ WhatsApp data for three months. 

“The order is intended to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the many millions of users throughout Germany who give their consent to the terms of use,” Caspar said in a statement. 

“It is important to prevent disadvantages and damages associated with such a black box procedure.”

California-based Facebook said that it is mulling its legal options and plans to appeal.

WhatsApp users worldwide have been asked to agree to new terms and conditions by May 15 that grant Facebook sweeping access to private data.

The company, which has 60 million users in Germany, is asking its 1.5 billion users globally to update the app as soon as possible.

The new terms and condition is part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s drive to monetize WhatsApp after snapping it up for $19 billion in 2014.

But WhatsApp is now competing with rivals like Signal and Telegram, both of whom claim to offer higher levels of privacy and data protection.

The Hamburg based watchdog is also urging EU regulators to slap a similar ban across all 27 member states.  

WhatsApp hit out at the ruling, denying the update is connected with any expansion of data sharing with Facebook, and emphasizing that the update is related only to messages between businesses and customers.

A company spokesperson said the order is being “based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of WhatsApp’s update and therefore has no legitimate basis.”

WhatsApp initially tried to introduce the update at the start of the year but backed off after a wave of confusion and misinformation among users, many of whom flocked to rival chat apps such as Signal and Telegram.