"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Privacy Law: European Commission Alleges Facebook Violation of EU Merger Guidelines in WhatsApp Acquisition: WhatsApp Data Collection by Facebook Not Legal in the EU: What about America and the FTC?

We posted our opinion already in August that the declared Facebook collection of WhatsApp data appeared to be illegal. See Facebook WhatsApp Privacy Invasion Promotes Anger and Likely Violates a 2012 Agreement with the FTC.

Already in September, Germany ordered Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp user data as violating data protection laws. Facebook had to delete all WhatsApp data gathered by Facebook about German users up to that point.

In November 2016, Facebook had to stop collecting WhatsApp user data in Europe after pressure by governments.

Now, a December 20, 2016 press release from the European Commission of the European Union alleges that Facebook provided misleading information about its WhatsApp takeover.

As stated in that press release: "Facebook now has now until 31 January 2017 to respond to the Statement of Objections. If the Commission's preliminary concerns in this case were confirmed, the Commission could, impose a fine of up to 1% of Facebook's turnover (under Article 14(1) of the EU Merger Regulation)." [emphasis added] That's a lot of money, folks.

screenshot photograph clip by LawPundit

Meredith Ballard, Staff Writer at The Campbell Law Observer had a piece in October about WhatsApp’s legal challenges illustrate the stark difference in U.S. and EU internet privacy laws -- and we can second that ! -- where she wrote, inter alia:

"The legal disputes facing WhatsApp and Facebook arise at a time when privacy law in the United States is still developing.  Currently, the law in the European Union has a reputation for being more consumer-oriented, with greater monitoring and privacy protections for app users outside of the U.S. In the U.S., Internet companies, such as Facebook and Google, are overseen by the FTC."

The FTC has proven itself thus far to be a virtually do-nothing "paper tiger" in terms of enforcement. See Facebook’s Plan for WhatsApp to Get Close Look from FTC.

In our opinion, the clearly interlocking-endangered merger of Facebook and WhatsApp should never have been permitted because it was destined to lead to these kinds of nefarious privacy abuses.