WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app, has been sued by a German consumer group for sharing data with the parent company. The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband) also referred to as VZBV has asked for an injunction in a Berlin court against data sharing between WhatsApp and Facebook.
Notably, the suit challenges the transfer of data between Facebook and WhatsApp. “Our experts brought the misconduct to light. Now we’ll meet in court. Be it Facebook, Google, Amazon or now WhatsApp: we target violations,” said VZBV. The group has alleged WhatsApp transfers private data to Facebook without consumer approval.
Last year, WhatsApp made some changes in its terms of service after which it could start sharing the phone numbers of its users with Facebook. Though, users were able to opt out of the sharing. The move was seen as a subtle but significant shift for WhatsApp, which for long promised to protect the privacy of more than 1 billion users around the world.
ZDNet points out that despite users opting out, WhatsApp still exports the data to Facebook. It also claims that Facebook utilises the phone numbers from WhatsApp to improve its friend suggestion feature on the social platform.
The European Commission in December sent a Statement of Objections to Facebook alleging that it provided incorrect or misleading information during the Commission’s 2014 investigation under the EU Merger Regulation of Facebook’s planned acquisition of WhatsApp. The European Commission had earlier stressed that companies are required to give the Commission accurate information during merger investigations.