During Government Shut Down, Facebook Moves to Integrate WhatsApp User Data

January 25, 2019

The New York Times has reported that Facebook is planning to integrate WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. Earlier this week, EPIC joined a coalition of groups urging the FTC to unwind the Facebook-WhatsApp merger, citing promises the companies made at time of the merger. In 2014, EPIC and the Center for Digital Democracy warned the Commission that Facebook incorporates user data from companies it acquires, and that WhatsApp users objected to the acquisition. The FTC responded to EPIC and CDD and told Facebook and WhatsApp "if the acquisition is completed and WhatsApp fails to honor these promises, both companies could be in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act and potentially the FTC's order against Facebook." The FTC letter concludes "hundreds of millions of users have entrusted their personal information to WhatsApp. The FTC staff continue to monitor the companies' practices to ensure that Facebook and WhatsApp honor the promises they have made to those users." Last week, Senators Markey and Blumenthal expressed concern over the impact of the government shutdown on the FTC's investigation into Facebook. Next week, the House Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the government shutdown's impact on the FTC's Facebook investigation.

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