Facebook Are Finally Going to Start Utilising WhatsApp User Data in Europe

Savid News
While Facebook might own WhatsApp, it's still very much separate business, and there isn't a great deal of crossover. Sure, some of the higher ups might work on both sides and the money gets moved around, but that's pretty much as far as it goes. New developments in the EU might change all that, however.

Facebook caused a stir last year when they announced that they would be changing WhatsApp's privacy policy to make user data easier to share around. At the time, some speculated that Facebook would start finding ways to use WhatsApp data on their own platform, and now it looks like that's exactly what's happening.

When the changes were first announced, numerous European data protection watchdogs made it abundantly clear that they weren't pleased with this decision, causing a complete shutdown of cross-platform data sharing first in the UK, then in the EU at large. Now, Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner has indicated that she expects a compromise to be reached within the next few months.

The key issue seems to have been that Facebook weren't making it clear what was in the data, or what they were planning to use it for. When you hear that a company which is privy to your mobile number, email, location and possibly bank details is going to 'use your data', but nothing else, it's bound to set off a few pretty clamorous alarm bells.

What we can expect, then, is a new plan which will acknowledge the need for further transparency, and probably provide a larger window for users to opt out of data sharing. That probably still won't be enough for some, though. Even if the revised proposal gets past the initial EU barrier, it's easy to imagine countries like Germany and Belgium taking umbrage with it, as they have with past Facebook and WhatsApp data sharing policies.

Facebook have struggled with this kind of thing more in the EU than other parts of the world, largely because European countries all take markedly different approaches to data protection laws, and they can't apply the same one-size-fits-all approach that they use in the States. Something or other is being to be in violation of a national regulation somewhere.

Whether or not Facebook do manage to get data sharing authorised in the EU, this is just one heading in a long list of issues Facebook have weathered since decided to monetise WhatsApp, something which they promised they wouldn't do when they bought it in 2014. While it's been easy to maintain a kind of equilibrium between Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, WhatsApp remains something of a problem child.

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