Tag: Facebook

The Article 29 Working Party put a bad light on Yahoo and WhatsApp

31. October 2016

The IAPP reported, that the Article 29 Working Party issued a warning concerning possible violations of European data protection regulations in form of a letter to both Yahoo and Whatsapp.

Both companies have been topic of public debate due to the way they handle the personal data of users. The concerns of the Article 29 Working Party regarding WhatsApp are that the company shares data with Facebook. Whereas, the objections towards Yahoo are raised due to both data breaches in 2014 and due to the allegation that the company scans incoming user emails for U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Therefore, the Article 29 Working Party requests that both companies provide more information on the problems. It can not be ruled out that investigations are launched and fines are imposed.

Spains DPA: Investigations due to WhatsApp sharing data with Facebook

10. October 2016

After Hamburg’s Data Protection Commissioner strongly recommended that Facebook should stop processing German data gained from WhatsApp, after the U.K. Information Commissioner, the ICO, also started to investigate the agreement betweent WhatsApp and Facebook and after Italy’s data protection authority, the Garante, has started to look into this issue, now Spain’s data protection authority, the AEPD, raises concerns.

Therefore, Spain’s data protection authority advises users to read the terms and conditions especially before accepting them. Furthermore, it offers guidance on changing the respective settings.

Hamburg Data Protection Commissioner issues statement on the data exchange between Facebook and WhatsApp

27. September 2016

Today, the Hamburg Data Protection Commissioner (DPA) issued a press release announcing an administrative order that aims at prohibiting the data exchange between Facebook and WhatsApp.

The critical opinion of the Hamburg DPA is based on the following arguments:

  • Facebook and WhatsApp are legally independent companies, each of which has its own service terms and conditions.
  • This data exchange infringes German Data Protection Law, as a legal basis for the collection and processing of personal data is required. In this case, the Hamburg DPA does not identify a legal basis for this data exchange.
  • The legal basis is neither based on the user’s consent because Facebook has not obtained the effective consent of WhatsApp’s users.
  • The ECJ has recently ruled that if a subsidiary processes personal data on behalf of its mother company, the national data protection laws are applicable. Facebook has its subsidiary for German speaking countries in Hamburg. According to this ruling, German data protection law is applicable in this case.

Johannes Caspar, Commissioner of the Hamburg DPA, has remarked that the administrative order protects personal data of around 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany, who have not given their consent for the processing of their personal data by Facebook. Upon this data exchange Facebook would receive personal data of WhatsApp users that do not even have a Facebook account.

WhatsApp’s new Privacy Policy has been challenged

21. September 2016

Two Indian students have asked the Delhi High Court for a public-interest litigation against Facebook regarding the recent changes on WhatsApp’s privacy policy. The students state in their petition that the changes “compromise the security, safety and privacy of data that belongs to users”.

The students asked the Court to order the Government to issue guidelines for messaging apps so that users’ rights are not compromised by the use of such apps.

WhatsApp changed its privacy policy some weeks ago. The main changes refer to data sharing with Facebook that acquired WhatsApp in 2014. Furthermore targeted ads and direct messages from businesses will be also allowed.

India is not the only jurisdiction where this legal challenge takes place. Other jurisdictions such as the EU and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission are also examining the recent changes.

WhatsApp stated that users are given the possibility to opt-out by turning off the data sharing function and that the only shared information relates to user names and phone numbers. The company also remarks that the use of the app is voluntary.

Category: Privacy policy
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No class-action suit against Facebook for selling personal information to advertisers

7. September 2016

Facebook users claimed that the social network “automatically and surreptitiously” disclosed information to advertisers in case the users clicked on ads. They accused Facebook to pass on information such as how they are using the website. This approach could be seen as “contrary to Facebook’s explicit privacy promises.”

However, Facebook just defeated these accusations of a group lawsuit as a judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not have enough in common to pursue a class-action (Facebook Privacy Litigation, 10-cv-02389, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California).

In the past, lawsuits against Facebook and other internt companies concerning data protection issues were unsuccesful due to the fact that the plaintiffs have not been able to demonstrate how disclosures to third parties harmed them. In case the lawsuits went further, the respective company has won the case at later stages so that no class-action suits have been developed.

 

 

Category: Countries · USA
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“What’s at stake is individual control of one’s data when they are combined by internet giants”

1. September 2016

The concern due to WhatsApp sharing user information with Facebook is rising, especially in Europe.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, European privacy regulators are investigating WhatsApp’s plan to share the information of their users with its parent company Facebook.

The Article 29 Working Party representing the 28 national data protection authorities released a statement at the beginning of this week saying that its members were following “with great vigilance” the upcoming changes to the privacy policy of WhatsApp due to the fact that the new privacy policy allows WhatsApp to share data with Facebook, whereas the privacy policy only gives existing WhatsApp users the right to opt out of part of the data sharing. Therefore, the Article 29 Working Party concluded “What’s at stake is individual control of one’s data when they are combined by internet giants”.

Furthermore,

  • the ICO also issued a statement last week raising concerns due to the “lack of control”,
  • at the beginning of this week the consumer privacy advocates in the U.S. filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission due to the fact that WhatsApp promised that “nothing would change” when Facebook acquired WhatsAPP two years ago and on top of that
  • the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy turned to the Federal Trade Commission in order to get the confirmation that the upcoming changes to the privacy policy can be seen as “marketing practices” that are “unfair and deceptive trade practices”.
Category: Article 29 WP · EU · UK · USA
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ICO: Statement on WhatsApp sharing information with Facebook

30. August 2016

The ICO just published a statement relating to the fact that WhatsApp is about to share user information with Facebook.

Elizabeth Denham who was appointed Information Commissioner in July 2016, said that “The changes WhatsApp and Facebook are making will affect a lot of people. Some might consider it’ll give them a better service, others may be concerned by the lack of control.” She continued by saying “Our role is to pull back the curtain on things like this, ensuring that companies are being transparent with the public about how their personal data is being shared, and protecting consumers by making sure the law is being followed.” Denham concluded “We’ve been informed of the changes. Organisations do not need to get prior approval from the ICO to change their approaches, but they do need to stay within data protection laws. We are looking into this.”

During the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress taking place on the 7-10 of November in Brussels Denham will contibute and also give a speech.

WhatsApp will share user information with Facebook

26. August 2016

Jan Koum, one of WhatsApp’s founders, stated shortly after selling WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014 that the deal would not affect the digital privacy of his mobile messaging service with millions of users.

However, according to the New York Times WhatsApp is about to share user information with Facebook. This week, WhatsApp published a statement saying that it will start to disclose phone numbers and analytics data of its users to Facebook. By doing so, it will be the first time that WhatsApp will connect the data of its users to Facebook.

Furthermoere, due to the fact that WhatsApp begins to built a profitable business after its previous little emphasis on revenue, it is now changing its privacy policy to the extent that WhatsApp wants to allow businesses to contact customers directly through its platform.

WhatsApp commented on the new privacy policy “We want to explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you, too, while still giving you an experience without third-party banner ads and spam”.

The new privacy policy will allow Facebook to use a users’s phone number to improve other Facebook-operated services like making new Facebook friend suggestions or better-tailored advertising.

However, WhatsApp underlines that neither it nor Facebook will be able to read users’ encrypted messages and emphasizes that individual phone numbers will not be given to advertisers.

Koum explained that “Our values and our respect for your privacy continue to guide the decisions we make at WhatsApp” and went on “It’s why we’ve rolled out end-to-end encryption, which means no one can read your messages other than the people you talk to. Not us, not Facebook, nor anyone else” and concluded “Our focus is the same as it’s always been — giving you a fast, simple and reliable way to stay in touch with friends and loved ones around the world.”

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy raises concerns due to the lack of data protection. Therefore, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Marc Rotenberg commented that it is about to file a complaint next week with the Federal Trade Commission in order to prevent WhatsApp from sharing users’ data with Facebook. Rotenberg justified this approach as “Many users signed up for WhatsApp and not Facebook, precisely because WhatsApp offered, at the time, better privacy practices” he explained “If the F.T.C. does not bring an enforcement action, it means that even when users choose better privacy services, there is no guarantee their data will be protected.”

 

Belgian DPA against Facebook for tracking of non-users

30. June 2016

The Belgian DPA sued Facebook about a year ago for tracking the online activities of non-users who visit the Facebook´s sites in Belgium without their consent.

In the first instance, the Court ruled that Facebook should stop tracking non-users without their consent or to face a fine of 250,000 euros per day. Facebook appealed this sentence to the Brussels Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal has now stated that the Belgian DPA has no jurisdiction over Facebook Inc. The Belgian DPA will appeal to the Court of Cassation, which cannot deliver new sentences but throw out previous judgements.

In the meanwhile, Facebook has confirmed that it will not track non-users without their consent when they visit Facebook sites or click the “like” button.

Moreover, Facebook stated that only the Irish DPA has jurisdiction regarding data protection issues that involve Facebook´s use of EU citizens’ personal data, as this is where the European Headquarters are located.

After the decision of the Court of Appeal, the Belgian DPA said that the decision “simply and purely means that the Belgian citizen cannot obtain the protection of his private life through the courts and tribunals when it concerns foreign actors”.

WhatsApp just added end-to-end encryption

6. April 2016

WhatsApp is an online messaging service, that has grown into one of the most used applications, owned by Facebook. Messages, phone calls and photos are exchanged via WhatsApp by more than a billion people. Therefore, only Facebook itself operates a larger communications network.

This week was revealed that the company has added end-to-end encryption to every form of communication developed by a team of 15 of out of 50 overall employees for any person using the latest version of WhatsApp, so that all messages, phone calls and photos are encrypted. This regards any smartphone, from iPhones to Android phones to Windows phones. By encrypting end-to-end not even WhatsApp’s employees have access to the data sent through this communication network. This means that WhatsApp will not be able to comply with a court order demanding the disclosure of the content of messages, phone calls and photos sent by using its service.

This way of encryption has generally led to a public discussion between technology companies and governments. For example, in the UK, politicians have proposed banning this encryption so that companies should be forced to install “backdoors” in order to be able to disclose the content only to law enforcement.

 

Category: Countries · EU · USA
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