WhatsApp will share with Facebook the data of users from outside the European Union | Technology


WhatsApp application with notifications of unread messages.
WhatsApp application with notifications of unread messages.Pixabay

In 2014 Facebook bought WhatsApp for more than 13.8 billion euros. Now, seven years later, the app messaging will share the data of some WhatsApp users with Facebook. But not of all. Mark Zuckerberg’s company has confirmed to EL PAÍS that these changes in the new privacy policy of the application, that will come into force on February 8, do not affect users members of the European Union.

“WhatsApp will update its conditions and privacy policy.” This is the message that has jumped to some people in their smartphones in the last days. The main change is that users from outside the European Union if they want to use the application will have to give their consent to Facebook to share and use the data obtained from WhatsApp for the rest of its services and purposes.

WhatsApp It already announced these changes in July of last year. But until now it was not mandatory for anyone to share the data, but voluntary. Starting February 8, this will change. Users from outside the EU who do not accept the new privacy policy will not be able to use the application. Among the data collected that WhatsApp will share with Facebook companies, there are those associated with each user’s account and the use made of the service. For example, the phone number, the transactions carried out, the mobile used or the IP address. WhatsApp also indicates that it is possible that other data mentioned in the section “information we collect” of your privacy policy, but it does not specify which ones. This data ranges from profile name to connections or location.

In no case will WhatsApp conversations be shared. The company cannot read the app’s messages as it works with end-to-end encryption. This means that when a user sends a message, it will be encrypted and will only be decrypted once it reaches the recipient. Even so, the decision has generated controversy in social networks because all the data that it will share could help Mark Zuckerberg’s company to create very complete profiles of the users who use its different social networks.

Why are these changes to the privacy policy not affecting all users? By the regulation of the different countries. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) prevents Facebook from sharing WhatsApp data with its other companies for its own interest. In fact, WhatsApp has a kind of sub-company for European users. While in those countries that are part of the European Union the services are provided by WhatsApp Ireland Limited, in the rest of the world they are provided by WhatsApp LLC.

Facebook has confirmed to this newspaper that there is a separate European version of the privacy policy that is different, according to different laws. The company has ensured that there are no substantial changes to the underlying data processing in the European Union. And he insists: WhatsApp still does not share the data of its EU users with Facebook in order for the latter company to improve products and advertisements. That is, users from countries such as Italy, France or Germany will not be affected by the aforementioned changes.

“Facebook does not use the information in your WhatsApp account to improve experiences with Facebook products or provide you with more relevant ads on the platform”, indicates the application itself on its website. It is, as he explains, the “result of the conversations that were held with the Irish Data Protection Commission and other data protection authorities in Europe”.

It is not the first time that Facebook has generated controversy over changes to its privacy policy. In fact, it was sanctioned by the European Commission for providing misleading data in the purchase of WhatsApp. The Commission then asked the social media giant if it could technically link the accounts of customers with profiles on both services. Facebook replied no. But two years later, in August 2016, it announced that it would share with Facebook the phone number of its users, as well as information about the frequency with which they use the instant messaging service. But WhatsApp finally failed to initiate this exchange of information, as reported by the Spanish Agency for Data Protection and collected by Europa Press.

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