Hamburg data protection agency opens proceedings against Facebook

The move is intended to prevent the inadmissible sharing of data between the popular messenger service and the parent company. A decision should be available by mid-May.

Johannes Caspar, Hamburg's data protection officer, has already messed with Facebook in the past.

Dhe Hamburg data protection officer Johannes Caspar has opened proceedings against Facebook in connection with the new WhatsApp terms of use. The aim is that the world’s largest Internet network is no longer allowed to collect data from WhatsApp users and process it for its own purposes, the authority, which is responsible for Facebook in Germany, announced on Tuesday. It is planned to come to a decision in the urgency procedure based on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) against Facebook in Ireland before May 15 in order to protect the rights and freedoms of German users.

“WhatsApp is now used by almost 60 million people in Germany and is by far the most widely used social media application, ahead of Facebook,” said Caspar. This should not lead to an improper use of data power. According to Caspar, there is reason to believe that the provisions on data sharing between the WhatsApp messenger and the parent company Facebook are being impermissibly enforced.

The American group will be given the opportunity to comment during a hearing. A WhatsApp spokesperson pointed to recent changes that made it clearer how data is collected and used. Even under the new terms of use, messages among friends around the world would remain private. Facebook will check the documents sent by the Hamburg data protection officer and respond to them.

In January WhatsApp announced an update to its terms of use. This should enable the messenger to share user data with mother Facebook and other actors belonging to the group such as Instagram. This caused an outcry around the world, which is why WhatsApp postponed the entry into force until May. If users do not agree, they should no longer be able to use the service. Messenger rivals such as Telegram and Signal have recently seen strong growth.