The Information Commissioner’s Office has claimed a victory for UK consumers after getting a public commitment from WhatsApp not to share personal data with Facebook.
However, the investigation concluded that WhatsApp cannot do this until it complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in May this year.
WhatsApp has signed an undertaking to comply with the ruling, after it was found the company would have contravened the UK’s Data Protection Act had it enacted the new policy.
The company will not face a fine after it assured the ICO that no UK user data had ever been shared with Facebook.
In a blog published on the ICO website, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “I reached the conclusion that an undertaking was the most effective regulatory tool for me to use, given the circumstances of the case.”
She added: “I therefore compliment WhatsApp in signing this undertaking, which I believe will build trust amongst their many UK users.
“I would also like to stress that signing an undertaking is not the end of story and I will closely monitor WhatsApp’s adherence to it.”
The investigation did not cover data sharing with Facebook when Facebook only provides a support service to WhatsApp.
The technical term for such sharing is that WhatsApp can use Facebook as a data processor, which is legal.