The Hamburg data protection agency has banned Facebook from processing the additional WhatsApp user data that the tech giant is granting itself access to under a mandatory update to WhatsApp’s terms of service.
The Indian government has also sought to block the changes to WhatApp’s T&Cs in court — and the country’s antitrust authority is investigating.
The majority of users who have had the terms pushed on them have already accepted them, according to Facebook, although it hasn’t disclosed what proportion of users that is.
But the intervention by Hamburg’s DPA could further delay Facebook’s rollout of the T&Cs — at least in Germany — as the agency has used an urgency procedure, allowed for under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to order the tech giant not to share the data for three months.
A WhatsApp spokesperson disputed the legal validity of Hamburg’s order — calling it “a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of WhatsApp’s update” and arguing that it “therefore has no legitimate basis”. The spokesperson added that Facebook-owned WhatsApp may be intending to ignore the order.
The emergency powers Hamburg is using can’t extend beyond three months but the agency is also applying pressure to the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to step in and make what it calls “a binding decision” for the 27 Member State bloc.