Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp has been ordered to pay a fine of 225 million euros ($266 million) for being transparent about how it handles personal information, the first fine imposed on the company under European Union data protection law.
The Irish Data Protection Commission – Europe’s main privacy watchdog in Silicon Valley – said it had found violations in the way WhatsApp explained how it handles user and non-user data, as well as how data is shared between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies.
The fine comes weeks after the penalty was imposed on Amazon companyWhich amounted to 746 million euros in Luxembourg, where its European base is located, due to the processing of personal data in violation of the General Data Protection Regulations of the European Union, according to “Bloomberg” and seen by “Al Arabiya.net”.
Under the GDPR law passed 3 years ago, the authorities have the power to fine companies up to 4% of their annual sales.
But the Irish regulator, which has at least 28 privacy investigations open targeting tech giants like Apple and Google, has faced growing criticism for taking so long to finalize the cases.
A WhatsApp spokesperson said: “We do not agree with today’s decision about the transparency we offered people in 2018 and the penalties are wholly disproportionate.” “We will appeal this decision.”
The Irish authority confirmed that it would also order the messaging service to take remedial action to make its data processing communications compliant. Which includes clarifying how users can submit a complaint to a supervisory authority.
And WhatsApp announced in an Irish regulatory filing in November that it had set aside €77.5 million to pay potential fines from at least two investigations by Ireland’s data protection watchdog.
The European Data Protection Council, a panel of European Union data authorities, said in a statement on Thursday that it had pushed for an increase in the privacy fine on WhatsApp that led to the penalty imposed by Ireland.
Thursday’s fine also comes amid additional pressure on WhatsApp over the policy changes it announced in January. It had to delay the fix until May after backlash from users and regulators about the data the messaging service collects and how it shares that information with parent company Facebook.
The European Data Protection Council, a panel of EU authorities, said in July that Facebook’s practices linked to WhatsApp data should be examined “as a matter of priority” by the Irish privacy watchdog.
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