London – The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), the European Union’s main regulator in the area, fined WhatsApp this Thursday (2/9) 225 million euros (2 billion reais) for violating privacy protection rules online users in the region.
It is the second highest fine ever imposed under the General Data Protection Regulation, introduced in 2018 to protect Europeans’ personal information online. The highest fine, €746 million, had been received by Amazon in 2020.
The WhatsApp penalty stems from an investigation initiated in 2018. In the statement in which it announced the decision, the Irish DPC said it examined whether the platform was meeting its transparency obligations under the GDPR with regard to the provision of information and transparency of this information to users and non-users of the messaging service, including sharing with Facebook.
A first decision on WhatsApp infringements resulting from the investigation had been taken in December 2020, with the establishment of a fine between 30 and 50 million euros. The RGPD determines fines of 20 million euros or up to 4% of sales in cases of non-compliance with online privacy rules.
However, eight Stakeholder Supervisors disagreed with the Irish regulator as to the articles infringed and the way in which the penalty was calculated. The European Data Protection Board then asked the DPC to review the decision.
The revaluation resulted in the application of a fine of €225 million. In addition, the DPC formally reprimanded WhatsApp and ordered it to “adjust its processing by taking a series of specific corrective actions”.
In response to the fine, a WhatsApp spokesperson stated:
“We work to ensure that the information we provide is transparent and comprehensive, and we will continue to do so.
We disagree with today’s decision regarding the transparency we offer people in 2018 and the penalties are totally disproportionate.”
The Facebook-owned company plans to appeal the decision, which will likely result in a lengthy legal battle. European Union rules set a lot of 20 million euros or up to 4% of sales if the company breaks the law.
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