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Ireland fined WhatsApp €225 million for violating EU’s data privacy rules

DUBLIN: WhatsApp was fined a record amount by Ireland’s privacy regulator for violating European Union data protection rules.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) of Ireland fined Facebook-owned messaging app €225 million on Thursday after discovering that the company failed to provide users with transparency about how their data would be used.

The Commission launched the investigation in December 2018 to evaluate whether WhatsApp met its transparency obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (DGPR).

This included details on how the data would be processed between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies. The investigation found that the company had failed to inform users about how their data would be used.

In December 2020, the DPC submitted its initial decision to other European regulators, whose approval is required. The findings were objected to by eight of the watchdogs, and the Commission was asked to reassess and increase its proposed fine based on a number of factors.

The agency reassessed its initial decision and then imposed a €225 million fine on WhatsApp.  This is the second and largest penalty imposed by the Irish regulator under the GDPR data rights charter. Last year, it fined Twitter €450,000 for a security breach.

WhatsApp disagrees with DPC’s decision

A number of major tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, and Google, have regional headquarters in Ireland. The DCC has been largely in charge of policing these companies’ GDPR compliance. As a result, it has directed WhatsApp to take corrective action in order for its data processing to comply with EU law.

However, the company said that it was already ensuring that procedures were transparent and that it disagreed with the Irish regulator’s decision. “We disagree with the decision today regarding the transparency we provided to people in 2018 and the penalties are entirely disproportionate,” WhatsApp said in a press statement.  

“WhatsApp is committed to providing a secure and private service,” the company said in a press statement. We have worked to ensure the information we provide is transparent and comprehensive and will continue to do so,” it added.

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