When Facebook acquired messaging app WhatsApp in February, CEO Mark Zuckerberg swore to not interfere with how the app currently handles user data.
Today, the FTC cleared the acquisition, publishing a letter addressing both companies, and reminding them that privacy promises must be upheld.
From Jennifer Rich, Director of Consumer Protection:
“WhatsApp has made a number of promises about the limited nature of the data it collects, maintains, and shares with third parties -promises that exceed the protections currently promised to Facebook users. We want to make clear that, regardless of the acquisition, WhatsApp must continue to honor these promises to consumers.”
If there is a failure to comply, Facebook and WhatsApp will violate rules regarding deceptive trade practices, likely resulting in millions of dollars in fines.
The social network could also violate its 20-year privacy agreement with the FTC, which was established in August 2012.
“WhatsApp’s hundreds of millions of users have agreed to use the WhatsApp service, and to have WhatsApp collect and transmit their information, with the understanding that these promises will be honored.”
Shortly after the acquisition, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum dispelled myths over what data the app has access to, and what control its new parent has.
The messaging service plans on standing firmly behind its core values, and Facebook likely doesn’t want to stir up even more heat from privacy advocates.
Photo credit: dcJohn