FTC May Block Facebook Integration of WhatsApp User Data

December 17, 2019

According to recent news reports, the FTC may pursue an injunction against Facebook to prevent the integration of WhatsApp and Instagram user data. Analysts noted that integration would make it more difficult to break up the company if required by a subsequent antitrust review. When Facebook proposed to acquire WhatsApp in 2014, EPIC filed a complaint with the FTC advising the agency to block the sale unless adequate privacy safeguards were established for WhatsApp user data.The FTC wrote in response "if the acquisition is completed and WhatsApp fails to honor these promises, both companies could be in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act and, potentially, the FTC's order against Facebook." The European Commission fined Facebook 122 million dollars in 2017 for misleading statements about the integration of the data sets. In a recent filing with a federal court, EPIC wrote "the Commission also seems entirely unconcerned by Facebook's planned integration of the personal data of WhatsApp users even though this would violate representations both firms previously made to the Commission."

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