SA’s information regulator says WhatsApp cannot share users’ contact information

Facebook Inc cannot share any contact information it collects from WhatsApp customers in South Africa with its different properties with out first acquiring authorisation from the nation’s Information Regulator (IR), the company stated on Wednesday.

In January, the Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp knowledgeable customers it was making ready a brand new privateness coverage, beneath which it may share some knowledge, together with location and cellphone numbers, with Facebook and its different models akin to Instagram and Messenger.


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The transfer has sparked backlash amongst customers in South Africa and elsewhere, and prompted many to go for rival companies akin to Signal or Telegram.

“WhatsApp cannot without obtaining prior authorisation from the IR process any contact information of its users for a purpose other than the one for which the number was specifically intended at collection, with the aim of linking that information jointly with information processed by other Facebook companies,” the regulator stated.

The regulator stated its determination was in accordance with part 57 of the Protection of Personal Information Act, South Africa’s knowledge safety regulation.

The company additionally stated that it has written to Facebook South Africa and outlined its considerations concerning the company’s privateness coverage.

A WhatsApp spokesperson stated the company is reviewing the regulator’s letter, including that the replace doesn’t develop the company’s skill to share knowledge with Facebook, nor does it influence the privateness of customers’ messages with pals or household.

“WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook and that policy applies to users everywhere, including in South Africa,” the spokesperson added.

The regulator can also be “very concerned” that residents of the European Union will obtain considerably larger privateness safety than folks in South Africa and Africa usually.

“Our legislation is very similar to that of the EU. It was based on that model deliberately, as it provides a significantly better model for the protection of personal information than that in other jurisdictions,” Chairperson of the IR Pansy Tlakula stated.

“We do not understand why Facebook has adopted this differentiation between Europe and Africa,” she stated.

The adjustments to WhatsApp’s privateness coverage have come beneath scrutiny globally, with Turkey’s competitors board launching an investigation and a authorized problem filed in India.

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