First it was the Delhi High Court telling WhatsApp it had to delete user information up until September 25, even though they ruled no constitutional issue applied. Now Germany has ordered Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp user data in Germany and to delete the data it’s already collected.
There’s a strong message in there: if you announce during an acquisition that you won’t be sharing user data, then you can’t just turn around two years later and declare by fiat that you’re now going to start sharing, and the sharing will include previously collected data if you want to keep using the service.
I think we’re going to see other countries jump into this issue, and I await something from our own FTC on the questions posed by Facebook changing its position two years after its acquisition of WhatsApp. WhatsApp policy had always stated that in the event of a merger or sale, user data could be included, so the problem wasn’t with them misleading consumers. The problem seems to be with reassuring users for two years that the acquisition wouldn’t result in sharing and then Facebook suddenly starting to have the data shared for use.