Daily Dashboard

Regulators Say App Violates International Law

MOBILE PRIVACY—CANADA & THE NETHERLANDS

January 29, 2013

A joint report released by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) states that WhatsApp—one of the world’s most popular mobile apps—violates international privacy law, Reuters reports. The instant-messaging application requires users to provide access to their complete address book, including users and non-users, the report states. Dutch DPA Chairman Jacob Kohnstamm said, “This lack of choice contravenes (Canadian and Dutch) privacy law. Both users and non-users should have control over their personal data and users must be able to freely decide what contact details they wish to share with WhatsApp.” The OPC initiated an investigation of the company in January 2012 for potentially violating the nation’s federal privacy law. Bird & Bird Partner Gerrit-Jan Zwenne told the Daily Dashboard, “Clearly the Dutch DPA thinks it has extra-territorial powers. The implications are far-reaching, as this would be no different for other DPAs in the EU. If this interpretation of EU data protection law is right—many doubt that—all national DPAs could investigate any non-EU-based controller that provides apps to EU nationals."
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