French privacy watchdog slams Whatsapp on data collection

French privacy watchdog slams Whatsapp on data collection
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The French data protection authority CNIL on Monday hit Facebook-owned messaging app Whatsapp over concerns about its data-sharing policy and obtaining consent in collecting user data.

According to CNIL, Whatsapp doesn’t offer users a meaningful chance to consent to having their data collected.

“The only way to refuse the data transfer for 'business intelligence' purpose is to uninstall the application,” the watchdog said in its notice to Whatsapp.

The messaging company announced a year ago that it would begin sharing some data with Facebook, which had acquired it in 2014. The announcement immediately drew scrutiny from privacy experts and privacy watchdogs, including CNIL.

The complaint stems from Whatsapp not resolving the consent issue a year after it had issued its first warning.

“The CNIL departments repeatedly asked WHATSAPP to provide a sample of the French users’ data transferred to FACEBOOK Inc.,” the French watchdog wrote. “The company explained that it could not supply the sample requested by the CNIL since, as it is located in the United States, it considers that it is only subject to the legislation of this country.”

Currently, CNIL and other European watchdog organizations have limited ability to impose significant fines. However, a new law set to go into effect next year will allow such groups to fine firms by as much as 4 percent of their international revenue.