WhatsApp fined €225m by data protection regulator

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has fined Facebook’s WhatsApp a record €225 million after the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) instructed Dublin to raise the penalty for the company’s alleged privacy breaches.

The DPC said its investigated included a probe into the “processing of information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies.”

The regulator said it has also imposed a reprimand along with an order for WhatsApp “to bring its processing into compliance by taking a range of specified remedial actions.”

WhatsApp said the fine was “entirely disproportionate” and that it would appeal.

Ireland’s DPC is the lead data privacy regulator for Facebook within the European Union and it said the issues related to whether WhatsApp conformed in 2018 with EU data rules about transparency.

“The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has today announced a conclusion to a GDPR investigation it conducted into WhatsApp Ireland Ltd,” said the Irish regulator.

“The DPC’s investigation commenced on 10 December 2018 and it examined whether WhatsApp has discharged its GDPR transparency obligations with regard to the provision of information and the transparency of that information to both users and non-users of WhatsApp’s service.

“This includes information provided to data subjects about the processing of information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies.

“Following a lengthy and comprehensive investigation, the DPC submitted a draft decision to all Concerned Supervisory Authorities (CSAs) under Article 60 GDPR in December 2020.

“The DPC subsequently received objections from eight CSAs.

“The DPC was unable to reach consensus with the CSAs on the subject-matter of the objections and triggered the dispute resolution process (Article 65 GDPR) on 3 June 2021.

“On 28 July 2021, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) adopted a binding decision and this decision was notified to the DPC.

“This decision contained a clear instruction that required the DPC to reassess and increase its proposed fine on the basis of a number of factors contained in the EDPB’s decision and following this reassessment the DPC has imposed a fine of €225 million on WhatsApp.

“In addition to the imposition of an administrative fine, the DPC has also imposed a reprimand along with an order for WhatsApp to bring its processing into compliance by taking a range of specified remedial actions.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.