CNIL: WhatsApp must get user consent to share data

CNIL has demanded that WhatsApp collect the formal consent of 10 million French WhatsApp users

The French computer agency CNIL has formally requested messaging app WhatsApp to change the way it receives consent from users to share their data with owner, social media giant Facebook.

CNIL (la Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés) has given the messaging company one month to comply with the law that requires it to let users in France consent properly to the fact that it will share their data, explains French news source 20 Minutes.

WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in 2014, and at that time, released a new version of its app, with the new terms and conditions explaining in the small print that users’ data would now be shared with its parent company.

CNIL’s ruling centres on the fact that users are not able to opt out of the data sharing unless they delete their WhatsApp app and stop using the service altogether. They are not allowed to say “no” to the data sharing, unless they say “no” to the entire service.

CNIL has now ruled that WhatsApp “does not have any legal basis for the operations carried out”, and that it had not put the required consent system in place to make sure users were properly consenting to share their data such as phone numbers and usage habits.

Now, CNIL has demanded that WhatsApp collect the formal consent of 10 million French WhatsApp users before any sharing with Facebook, and give them the option to opt out of the data sharing, while still being able to use the service.

Although this request is not a punishment, if WhatsApp does not comply with the ruling or is very slow to do so, the CNIL could open stronger sanctions and procedures against the company.

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