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Parliamentary questions
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11 January 2021
E-000110/2021
Question for written answer  E-000110/2021
to the Commission
Rule 138
Carmen Avram (S&D)
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: WhatsApp new policy and the Commission’s 2014 approval of Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp – personal data as an asset in digital mergers – follow up to question E-00446/2019

Under WhatsApp’s new policy(1), WhatsApp will be able to share the user’s number, phone numbers they have saved in their phonebook, user profile information, login times, and much more by means of all the applications in the Facebook ecosystem(2).

Facebook has 2.7 billion users worldwide. Profiling will be done statistically on characteristics, and this will massively affect EU users too. This is a fundamental data externality that will also affect users in Europe(3).

In its answer to question E-000446-6/2019(4) the Commission stated that: ‘the Commission subsequently found that the information provided by Facebook as to the impossibility of user matching was incorrect or misleading, and imposed an EUR 110 million fine on Facebook’.

Does the Commission find this new WhatsApp policy acceptable, and is this in line with Facebook’s promises and commitments made during the Commission’s assessment of the acquisition in 2014(5)?

This change of terms in WhatsApp and Facebook will also affect EU citizens. Over 2 billion people outside the EU are directly affected: statistical profiles will be created, but the results will also be applied to every Facebook user in the EU too.

Facebook’s previous ‘promises’ not to use WhatsApp data has never been audited. Is the Commission willing to perform such an audit?

Personal data aggregation is clearly an asset. Is the Commission reviewing how it assesses it in digital mergers?

(1)https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/updates/terms-of-service/?lang=en
(2)https://plus.lesoir.be/348045/article/2021-01-10/whatsapp-partage-toujours-plus-avec-facebook
(3)https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_14_1088
(4)https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2019-000446-ASW_EN.html
(5)https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2019-000446-ASW_EN.html
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