Facebook ordered to stop WhatsApp data

Karim Matussek writes:

Johannes Caspar, who heads Hamburg’s privacy authority, issued a three-month emergency ban, prohibiting Facebook from continuing with the data collection. He also asked a panel of European Union data regulators to take action and issue a ruling across the 27-nation bloc. The new WhatsApp terms enabling the data scoop are invalid because they are intransparent, inconsistent and overly broad, he said.

Facebook’s WhatsApp unit called Caspar’s claims “wrong” and said the order won’t stop the roll-out of the new terms. The regulator’s action is “based on a fundamental misunderstanding” of the update’s purpose and effect, the company said in an emailed statement.

I usually don’t deliberate on these “news” – but in the ongoing pandemic, WhatsApp has become the “life-line” of millions across the globe. Especially, in the global south where it has become the default application. WhatsApp has implemented an insidious plan – they will limit the functionality of the application gradually, for those who refuse to agree to their terms and conditions for blanket data collection.

Facebook collects significant data around “shadow users”- even if they are not using these services, access the contact details and map out social graph. Twitter has started doing the same on its service by pushing out the “verification” messages.

There’s a “ban” for three months- however, I don’t know hum much things will change. Giant technology companies usually “reach an understanding” around these contentious issues and the previous policy change was floated like a trial balloon to guage the potential “backlash”. Users won’t bother much, anyway.