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Facebook Ignores Germany's Data Collection Ban for Now

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GDPR regulators are urged to enforce an Europe-wide ban



Germany has banned Facebook to collect data on WhatsApp users within the country's borders. According to the Hamburg Data Protection and Freedom of Information Commission (HmbBfDI), the app's new data collection policies, as well as Facebook's aggressive efforts to persuade users to accept, tamper with the GDPR regulations.  


In a press release, HmbBfDI commissioner Johannes Caspar stated that Facebook has a history of user-privacy abuse, citing the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the recent leak of 500 million records as examples.


The commissioner is particularly concerned that WhatsApp's less transparent advertising policies may have a role to play in the German elections coming up in September.


Caspar stated that "In view of the nearly 60 million WhatsApp users with a view to the upcoming federal elections in Germany in September 2021, the risk is all the more concrete, as these will arouse desires after influencing the opinion-forming of Facebook's advertisers".

WhatsApp’s Terms and Conditions violate GDPR 

WhatsApp's data collection has been allowed for three months by the HmbBfDI.  In the meantime, the European Data Protection Committee (EDPC) was asked to decide the case on a European level. If the EDPC finds that WhatsApp is in violation of the GDPR, a more permanent ban will be implemented on all member states, including Germany, until WhatsApp changes its policies.


Facebook has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. According to a spokesperson for Bloomberg, the commission's emergency order is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of WhatsApp's terms and conditions. Despite the ban, Facebook plans to roll out the new rules.


Facebook threatened to delete users' accounts if they did not agree to the terms after attempting to downplay its data collection policy. However, following widespread criticism, the social media toned down the threat, opting instead to bombard users with nagging consent popups.


If the reminders are ignored, the app will gradually lose key features until it will become useless. Users have until May 15 to accept the updated terms.



Edited by vissha
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