WhatsApp Costs Facebook Additional Fines in Europe - The UpStream

WhatsApp Costs Facebook Additional Fines in Europe

posted Saturday May 20, 2017 by Scott Ertz

WhatsApp Costs Facebook Additional Fines in Europe

When Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, a number of countries had a lot of questions. One of the hardest groups on the merger was the European Union, who is always weary of large tech mergers. Based on the answers to the questions, the EU approved the merger.

One of the most important questions that was asked was whether Facebook would be able to or interested in matching WhatsApp and Facebook account information to create a super-profile of user activity. Facebook made it clear that they were not interested in matching user info for activity tracking or any other purpose. The internet, however, knew that could never be true.

In 2016, Facebook and WhatsApp changed their privacy policy, allowing the two to share information for the purposes of user matching. This immediately opened an investigation within the EU as to whether or not this constituted misleading information to the commission.

This week, a final ruling was passed down, and it involves a pretty hefty fine for the company. Coming in at €110 million, or $122 million, the commission believes that the fine is "both proportionate and deterrent." Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said,

Today's decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information. And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook. The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers' effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts.

Facebook has said that it believes the penalty to be unwarranted, but has decided not to fight the ruling.

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