Ireland fines WhatsApp €225 million over privacy concerns
The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has issued a €225 million fine on WhatsApp for breaching the EU’s GDPR rules. The fine is related to an investigation that started in 2018 regarding WhatsApp’s lack of transparency about how it processes user data.
In a press release regarding its decision, the Irish DPC notes:
“The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has today announced a conclusion to a GDPR investigation it conducted into WhatsApp Ireland Ltd. The DPC’s investigation commenced on 10 December 2018 and it examined whether WhatsApp has discharged its GDPR transparency obligations with regard to the provision of information and the transparency of that information to both users and non-users of WhatsApp’s service. This includes information provided to data subjects about the processing of information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies.”
The release further mentions how the DPC’s draft decision on the investigation from December 2020 received objections from eight Concerned Supervisory Authorities (CSAs). A report from the BBC reveals that the CSAs had expressed their disagreement with the Irish regulator regarding which articles of the GDPR WhatsApp had broken and the manner in which the regulator calculated the proposed fine of €30-50 million.
Following that, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) asked the DPC “to reassess and increase its proposed fine on the basis of a number of factors contained in the EDPB’s decision.” This reassessment resulted in the DPC imposing a €225 million fine on WhatsApp for breaching GDPR rules. In addition, the DPC has formally reprimanded WhatsApp and ordered it to “bring its processing into compliance by taking a range of specified remedial actions.”
In response to the fine, a WhatsApp spokesperson shared the following statement:
“We have worked to ensure the information we provide is transparent and comprehensive and will continue to do so. We disagree with the decision today regarding the transparency we provided to people in 2018 and the penalties are entirely disproportionate.”
The Facebook-owned company plans to appeal the decision, which will likely result in a lengthy legal battle.