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Hamburg data protection activists open proceedings against Facebook


Johannes Caspar wants to restrict the exchange of user data between WhatsApp and Facebook. The procedure is to be carried out in a hurry.

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WhatsApp logo on a t-shirt

Photo: Rupak De Chowdhuri / REUTERS

The Hamburg data protection officer Johannes Caspar has opened proceedings against Facebook in connection with the new WhatsApp terms of use.

The aim is that the world's largest Internet network is no longer allowed to collect data from WhatsApp users and process it for its own purposes, said the authority, which is responsible for Facebook in Germany, on Tuesday.

It is planned to come to a decision in the urgency procedure based on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) against Facebook in Ireland before May 15 in order to protect the rights and freedoms of German users.

"WhatsApp is now used by almost 60 million people in Germany and is by far the most widely used social media application, ahead of Facebook," said Caspar.

This should not lead to an abusive exploitation of data power.

According to Caspar, there is reason to believe that the provisions on data sharing between the WhatsApp messenger and the parent company Facebook are being impermissibly enforced.

The US group is to be given the opportunity to comment during a hearing.

A WhatsApp spokesperson pointed to recent changes that made it clearer how data is collected and used.

Even under the new terms of use, messages among friends around the world would remain private.

Facebook will check the documents sent by the Hamburg data protection officer and respond to them.

In January WhatsApp announced an update to its terms of use.

With this, the Facebook group would like to enable companies, among other things, to sell WhatsApp users products that they have previously seen on the Facebook platforms or the company's Instagram service.

This caused criticism worldwide, which is why WhatsApp had postponed the entry into force to May 15.

If users do not agree to the new terms of use, they should only be able to use the service to a limited extent.

For a “short time” you will still “receive calls and notifications, but you will not be able to read or send messages in the app,” the company said at the end of February.

The term "short time" could mean something like "a few weeks".

According to the previous rules, accounts are deleted "usually after 120 days of inactivity".

The possibility of being able to use the app passively or to a limited extent without having agreed to the new guidelines could slow down churn movements, which WhatsApp apparently fears: Whoever can still be called or sees that new messages are available, the network may not be complete after all want to leave and prefer to agree retrospectively.

After the announcement of the new terms of use, competing services such as Telegram and Signal reported a sharp increase in user numbers.

mak / Reuters

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-04-13

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