Court to Facebook


WhatsApp may not transfer the data of its 35 million German users to Facebook.

Facebook has lost its bid to collect the personal data of WhatsApp users in Germany — for now.

The idea was to improve Facebook’s ad targeting and to make it easier for the social network to suggest friend connections.

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With some careful scrolling through the new terms, WhatsApp users were able to opt out of allowing Facebook to use their data for these purposes. However, they could not stop Facebook from transferring their WhatsApp data to the mothership in the first place.

Hamburg data-protection commissioner Johannes Caspar said Facebook had not asked for nor received users’ genuine consent for the data transfers. The social network appealed to the courts, and on Tuesday it suffered a serious setback.

“This is good news for the many millions of people who use the WhatsApp messenger service in Germany every day,” said Caspar in a statement. “They are not defenceless.”

Facebook told ZDNet it intends to appeal this part of the court’s ruling. The company said it has paused the use of WhatsApp users’ data across Europe, while it discusses the matter with regulators.

In a separate case, Germany’s consumer watchdogs in January sued Facebook over the data transfers, this time in Berlin. The associations’ umbrella body, the VZBV, had issued a cease-and-desist order around the same time that Caspar made his order, but Facebook had refused to comply.

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