Whatsapp fined €3 Million for sharing data with Facebook in Italy

3 million fine for data sharing in ItalyWhatsApp, the most popular instant messaging app in the world, has been under the radar of European privacy authorities soon after its decision to update its privacy policy last year. After several debates, direct attacks and criticism, now WhatsApp has to face a huge fine. What’s happened?

Italian’s antitrust authorities have just fined the Facebook-owned app €3 Million. The decision was taken because, according to the Italian competition watchdog, users were ‘induced’ into sharing information with Facebook, who, as we know, is the app’s parent company. Actually the fine is even lower than expected, the maximum being €5 million.

Even so, it is an important decision which comes after a similar one was taken by German authorities, which banned Facebook from collecting information on its WhatsApp users in the country.

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What was the reaction of WhatsApp? A spokesperson of the messaging app said: “We’re reviewing the decision, and we look forward to responding to officials,” . But the €3 Million penalty seems to be not enough to settle the dispute. The Italian regulator has also extended its investigation to other contractual clauses because of “alleged unfair nature of some contractual clauses included in WhatsApp Messenger’s Terms of Use“. These clauses include WhatsApp’s right to switch off the service at any moment and for any reason, but this part of the dispute should be ruled by the law of the State of California.

On the matter the Italian’s antitrust regulator explained that WhatsApp users had the opportunity to refuse to share their data with Facebook, but that `it was inadequately flagged’. It is a fact that all of the 28 European Union data protections authorities have expressed their concern about WhatsApp’s new policy and clearly asked the company to stop sharing its users’ data with its parent company.

When WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook back in 2014, users were told that “Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little as possible.”