“WP29 also questions the effectiveness of control mechanisms offered to users to exercise their rights and the effects that the data sharing will have on people that are not a user of any other service within the Facebook family of companies.”
It adds that its various members, so basically all the national DPAs of EU Member States, will “act in a coordinated way” to target any problems they identify, with a dedicated working group for enforcement actions set to address the WhatsApp issue specifically.
The letter asks WhatsApp for details of the specific data being shared — including data categories, source and recipients, and the effects of the data transfer on users and on “potential third persons” — so the working group can assess whether changes are necessary to ensure legal compliance.
The Wp29 group also urges WhatsApp to stop passing user data to Facebook while it investigates the legality of the arrangement.
WhatsApp declined to specify whether it would be halting data-sharing in Europe, per the WP29’s request, when we asked.
But it provided TechCrunch with the following statement, attributed to a spokesperson: “We’re working with data protection authorities to address their questions. We’ve had constructive conversations, including before our update, and we remain committed to respecting applicable law.”
Europe’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, has also publicly flagged the arrangement as a concern — suggesting new rules are needed to enable the region’s regulators to keep up with tech giants’ use of data.