Ireland’s Data Protection Commission Fines WhatsApp €225 million

September 2, 2021

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) fined Facebook’s WhatsApp €225 million ($266 million) for privacy violations following a GDPR investigation that began in 2018. In the decision, the data privacy regulator explained that WhatsApp breached the GDPR’s rules about data transparency, including when it processed user information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies. While the €225 million fine is a record for the DPC and the second largest fine ever issued under the GDPR, privacy advocate and EPIC Advisor Max Schrems noted “[t]he DPC also proposed an initial € 50 million fine and was forced by the other European data protection authorities to move towards € 225 million, which is still only 0.08% of the turnover of the Facebook Group. The GDPR foresees fines of up to 4% of the turnover.” EPIC has long urged the Federal Trade Commission to block or unwind Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. In 2014, EPIC and the Center for Digital Democracy warned the FTC that Facebook incorporates user data from companies it acquires, and that WhatsApp users objected to the acquisition. Despite these problems, the FTC allowed the merger to go forward.

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