Ireland fines WhatsApp €225m for breaching EU data protection rules

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has fined WhatsApp €225 million for breaching EU rules on user privacy.

The authority said WhatsApp Ireland had failed to provide the necessary data protection information to users.

It is the largest fine ever issued by a DPC and the second largest fine imposed on an organization under EU data protection laws.

The Facebook-owned messaging platform has also been cited for failing to live up to its “transparency obligations”.

Why was WhatsApp fined?

DPC added that the initial fine awarded to WhatsApp was lifted by the European Data Protection Council due to “a number of factors”.

The body, which is Facebook’s main regulator for data privacy within the European Union, said issues related to whether WhatsApp complied in 2018 with EU transparency databases.

“This includes information provided to data subjects about the processing of information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies,” the Irish regulator said in a statement.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement that the issues involved relate to policies in place in 2018.

“WhatsApp is committed to providing a secure and private service. We have worked to ensure that the information we provide is transparent and comprehensive and will continue to do so,” the spokesperson said.

What does the referee say?

The DPC’s decision, issued Thursday, reads as follows:

“An administrative fine, pursuant to Articles 58 (2) (1) and 83, directed at WhatsApp, in the amount of €225 million. For the avoidance of doubt, this fine reflects the violations found to have occurred, as follows: 1. In connection with a violation of Article 5 (1) ) (a) of the GDPR, a fine of 90 million euros; 2. in connection with a violation of Article 12 of the General Data Protection Regulation, a fine of 30 million euros; iii.. in connection with a violation of Article 13 of the General Data Protection Regulation, a fine in the amount of 30 million euros; and 4. in connection with the violation of Article 14 of the General Data Protection Regulation, a fine of 75 million euros.

But what does this actually refer to?

5.1(a) – WhatsApp fails to process users’ personal data in a lawful, fair and transparent manner.

12 – WhatsApp fails to provide information on how data is collected “in a concise, transparent, understandable and easily accessible manner, using plain and clear language”. This includes making the information easier for the child to understand if the information is directed at them.

13 – WhatsApp fails to inform users where the data is stored, the details of a person users can contact, the purposes of data collection and who is receiving the data.

14 – WhatsApp fails to inform users when and where their personal data was obtained and processed from third parties.

How did you come to this?

The DPC has been criticized in the past by other European regulators for taking too long to reach decisions regarding the tech giants and not fining them enough for any violations.

Data regulators from eight other European countries launched a dispute resolution mechanism after Ireland shared its provisional decision regarding the WhatsApp investigation, which began in December 2018.

In July, a meeting of the European Data Protection Council “issued clear instructions that required the DPC to reassess and increase the proposed fine based on a number of factors contained,” the Irish regulator said.

“Following this reassessment, DPC has imposed a fine of €225 million on WhatsApp,” the company said.

what is happening now?

The Irish regulator also imposed a reprimand along with an order for WhatsApp to bring its processing into compliance by taking “a range of specific remedial measures”.

The Irish regulator had opened 14 major inquiries into Facebook and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram as of the end of last year.

WhatsApp has also been ordered to take a number of measures to bring its data policies in line with strict EU regulations.

WhatsApp said the fine was “totally disproportionate” and that it would appeal.

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