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Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Facebook Won't Use Whatsapp Data Amid Privacy Probe

Facebook has agreed to pause using data from UK WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes, following pressure from the he nation’s privacy watchdog.

According to the U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, Facebook and WhatsApp have been asked to sign an undertaking committing to better explain to customers how their data will be used, and to giving users ongoing control over that information.

"We also want individuals to have the opportunity to be given an unambiguous choice before Facebook start using that information and to be given the opportunity to change that decision at any point in the future. We think consumers deserve a greater level of information and protection, but so far Facebook and WhatsApp haven’t agreed. If Facebook starts using the data without valid consent, it may face enforcement action from my office," Denham added.

WhatsApp’s changes are the first steps by Facebook toward monetizing the platform since the social network’s chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, sealed a deal to buy the app for $22 billion for the app in 2014.

European Union data protection regulators, who include the U.K. commissioner, last month said Facebook must stop processing user data from WhatsApp while they investigate the privacy policy changes the company announced in August. The Article 29 Working Party said on Oct. 28 that it had "serious concerns" about the sharing of WhatsApp users’ data for purposes that were not included in the terms of service and privacy policy when existing users signed up to the service.

Facebook said that the policy updates "comply" with the law and follow the latest guidance from the U.K. regulator.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also reviewing a joint complaint from two consumer privacy groups filed in August claiming that Facebook’s move violates U.S. federal law banning unfair and deceptive practices.

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