Share on Pinterest

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for a record USD 19.3 billion. At the time of the merger, Facebook had told that it will not use WhatsApp data for any purpose.

Contrary to this, last year in August it updated its Terms of Service and Privacy policy and notified users that they could link their accounts on both these platforms. This would let WhatsApp share user data with Facebook for better ad targeting. This has caused a furore among users and privacy watch dogs all over the world.

During merger, Facebook didn’t inform the European Union that such a thing could happen in the future. Nor did it inform that the technology to do this was available then too. And as such, this is a breach of European Union’s Regulation of Mergers.

The commission can impose a maximum penalty of 1 % of the total turnover of the companies for providing false information and Facebook has been fined USD 122 million for this. This is a very paltry sum for a company as large as Facebook which earns tens of billions of USD from advertising. But nonetheless, it is a step in right direction towards protecting user privacy.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of the competition was quoted saying “Today’s decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information. And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook. The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers’ effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts.”

Interestingly, the Supreme Court Of India too has been tightening its rope around WhatsApp for changing its privacy policy after acquisition. A five judge bench headed by Justice Deepak Mishra is hearing the matter. It said that it is the Government’s duty to see that users are not entrapped in a corridor of charity, after the WhatsApp Counsel argued that it is a free service. The final judgement is yet to come.

Share your views regarding the ongoing battle to protect user privacy.

Source: European Commission

Share on Pinterest