Privacy groups urge FTC to probe Facebook's deal to buy WhatsApp

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The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp.

The privacy groups are asking government regulators to block the proposed acquisition until any privacy issues are resolved. At issue: Whether Facebook will exploit reams of personal information of WhatsApp’s more than 450 million users to target advertising.

Jacob Kohnstamm, who leads a group of EU privacy officials known as the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party as well as the Dutch agency that was already investigating WhatsApp, told Bloomberg the main concern is the collection of data from users’ address books on their phones when they download the application.

“It is tempting to use this data” for other purposes, he said. he company’s “collection of data of people that aren’t using WhatsApp is extreme and is not compliant with Dutch and European law.”


Privacy groups urge FTC to probe Facebook's deal to buy WhatsApp