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French authorities order WhatsApp to stop sharing user data with Facebook

Tim Maytom

France's National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) has ordered WhatsApp to stop sharing user data with its parent company Facebook, giving the firm a month to comply with the order after it found that changes to the app's terms of service violate "the fundamental freedoms of users".

The notoriously-strict privacy watchdog began investigating the data relationship between Facebook and WhatsApp last year, when the OTT messaging service added to its terms of service that it shares data with its parent firm to develop targeted advertising, security measures and to gather business intelligence.

CNIL ruled that while WhatsApp's intention of improving security measures was a valid reason to share data, the business intelligence objectives were not, especially as users were not notified of the change and there was no way to opt out from data collection.

The public notice is the latest in a string of attempts by European nations to rein in Facebook's data sharing and other controversial practices. Last year, both German and UK authorities ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users, and earlier this year, Facebook was fined 110m (£97.1m) by the EU for providing "misleading information" during its acquisition of WhatsApp, when it claimed that it would be unable to link together profiles from the messaging platform with its social network data.