WhatsApp has agreed to not share user data with Facebook in Europe

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Denham also found that WhatsApp can not and, thanks to the newly signed agreement, will not share user data with Facebook for anything other than basic data processing.

Denham said her investigation found that WhatsApp "had not identified a lawful basis of processing for any such sharing of personal data" and failed to provide "adequate fair processing information to users" regarding any sharing of their personal information. So if you are a WhatsApp users, and don't want Facebook to add it to the long list of ways it can hoard information about you, you needn't worry.

That same month WhatsApp also suspended such data sharing activity in the UK.

"I found that if they had shared the data, they would have been in contravention of the first and second data protection principles of the Data Protection Act", Denham wrote in a blog post.

The European Union's new stronger, unified data protection laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will come into force on 25 May 2018, after more than six years in the making.

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The ICO now has the power to issue fines of up to half a million pounds for preventable breaches, but to date, the biggest fines issued have been £400,000 ($558,000), to budget ISP TalkTalk and Carphone Warehouse. WhatsApp has agreed to an undertaking of that effect, which can be read here.

Data protection law does not prevent a company from sharing personal data - they just have to follow the legal requirements.

"At the heart of these concerns lies a desire for improved transparency, control and accountability, at a time when personal data is ever more central to the business models of key players in the digital economy", she said.

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office summarised their investigation here.

The French data protection authority (CNIL) is in the process of bringing enforcement action against WhatsApp. It's not a permanent commitment, and there are a few noteworthy exceptions, but it's good news for WhatsApp users who give a damn about their privacy. Her key goal is to increase the United Kingdom public's trust and confidence in what happens to their personal data.