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WhatsApp changes privacy policy after €225m watchdog fine


Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon. Photo: Mark Condren

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon. Photo: Mark Condren

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon. Photo: Mark Condren

WhatsApp is changing the privacy policy of its messaging service for users across Europe after being fined €225m by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) in August.

The fine followed a near three-year probe by the DPC into whether WhatsApp Ireland, part of the Meta group that also owns Facebook, had properly adhered to data protection rules. Apart from imposing a fine, the DPC ordered WhatsApp Ireland to bring its data processing into compliance by taking a range of remedial actions.

WhatsApp said the changes to the privacy policy that come into effect this week provide users with additional details about the data it collects and uses, why it is stored and when the data is deleted. It also provides more information about what services third parties provide to the group.

There are more explanations about why WhatsApp shares data across borders and how that data is protected, as well as extra legal information.

Users will not have to agree to any new updated terms because of the changes and can continue using WhatsApp without taking any action.

WhatsApp has sought to appeal the DPC’s September ruling and fine in Ireland’s High Court, arguing that the decision was flawed and should be set aside. It has also claimed that the scale of the fine is effectively a criminal sanction and that it affects its constitutional property rights.

Earlier this month, it was given permission by the court to proceed with its appeal.

“As ordered by the Irish Data Protection Commission, we have reorganised and added more detail to our Privacy Policy for people in the European region,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson.

“We disagree with the decision and are appealing because we believe we already provided the required information to all our users,” they added.

“This update does not change our commitment to user privacy or the way we operate our service, including how we process, use or share your data with anyone, including Meta,” said the spokesperson. “Wherever you are in the world, we protect all personal messages with end-to-end encryption, which means no one, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”

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