The German data protection agency has ordered Facebook to stop collecting and storing user data from its WhatsApp messenger app and delete any data it has already received.
Hamburg’s Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Johannes Caspar ruled on Tuesday that Facebook “neither has obtained an effective approval from the WhatsApp users, nor does a legal basis for the data reception exist”.
“It has to be [the users’] decision whether they want to connect their account with Facebook. Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance.”
Caspar ordered Facebook to delete any data already received from WhatsApp in Germany, saying that he was acting to protect the privacy of the nation’s 35 million WhatsApp users.
Facebook is to appeal against the order of the German agency. A Facebook spokesperson said: “Facebook complies with EU data protection law. We will work with the Hamburg DPA in an effort to address their questions and resolve any concerns.”
Facebook’s data protection practices have previously been called into question by regulators in several other European countries including Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.