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Friday, 11 April 2014 10:18

FTC warns Facebook and WhatsApp over privacy concerns Featured

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Facebook's sensational acquisition of WhatsApp for $US16 billion is making waves again, this time from US regulators who have warned Facebook about making changes to the messaging app's privacy policy.

While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has informed Facebook it's approved the deal, FTC officials are also making it clear WhatsApp, even in Facebook hands, has to honour its privacy commitments.

The regulator sent a letter to both WhatsApp and Facebook reminding them that WhatsApp has made 'promises' to consumers on protecting their data and that both companies have told consumers that after the acquisition, WhatsApp will continue its current privacy practices.

The deal, announced in February, has raised concerns for the FTC, partly because both companies collect users’ data, but have different policies governing how data is used.

“WhatsApp has made a number of promises about the limited nature of the data it collects, maintains, and shares with third parties—promises that exceed the protections currently promised to Facebook users,” said Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, in the letter.

Rich said that, regardless of the terms of the accquisition, “WhatsApp must continue to honor these promises to consumers," and that if it didn't then 'both companies could be in violation' of the law 'and, potentially, the FTC's order against Facebook'.

The letter also reminded the companies that WhatsApp, which has an estimated 450 million users around the world, has a privacy policy stating that it 'does not collect names, emails, addresses or other contact information from its users' mobile address book' and that it does not collect location data or keep an archive of messages.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was satisfied with the FTC review and that "both companies will continue to comply with all applicable laws after the transaction closes."

For more information on the acquisition itself check out our original article here.


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