WhatsApp With My Privacy

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This afternoon news emerged that changes made by WhatsApp to its privacy policy allowing personal data to be shared with Facebook will be investigated by British authorities.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, which oversees the use of data in the UK, has said that it is looking into these changes made to WhatsApp’s terms and conditions.

According to The Independent, the messaging service is set to share private information with Facebook and is preparing to allow businesses to message users, despite earlier commitments to the public not to do so.

The ICO regulates how companies use the data of Brits and even when these companies aren’t based in the UK, they still need to respect UK/EU data protection rules.

I talk a lot about the issue data privacy and data use by corporations – especially those outside of the UK and I’m relieved to hear that the ICO has stepped up to send out a clear message. Facebook and Whatsapp need to be held to the same regulations as other operators.

This is not an issue about whether or not people want their information to be shared. This is a matter of big companies being transparent about the personal data they use and store.

The value of data is clear and allowing more data to be saved leads to a more personalised and localised service, but it requires consent and full understanding from users. The problem is that many users are not aware their data is being stored and have in the past been told not to worry.