WhatsApp hit with €225 million fine for violating GDPR privacy laws

WhatsApp logo
WhatsApp logo (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • WhatsApp faces a €225 million fine for violating GDPR laws.
  • It's the largest fine that Ireland's Data Protection Commission has ever issued.
  • Facebook is appealing the fine and claims that it has been transparent and comprehensive regarding data use.

Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC) fined Facebook-owned WhatsApp €225 million (approximately $267 million) for violating GDPR privacy laws. It's the largest fine that Ireland's DPC has ever issued. The fine follows an investigation that began on 10 December 2018.

The DPC's investigation examined if WhatsApp was transparent in how it handled the data of WhatsApp users and non-users. Part of the investigation looked at how data was processed between WhatsApp and other companies owned by Facebook.

The investigation was lengthy, looking into how WhatsApp collects, stores, and shares user data. It also looked into if WhatsApp's policies regarding data are clearly communicated. The final decision breaking down the results (PDF) of the investigation is over 260 pages.

On top of fining WhatsApp, the DPC reprimanded the company:

In addition to the imposition of an administrative fine, the DPC has also imposed a reprimand along with an order for WhatsApp to bring its processing into compliance by taking a range of specified remedial actions.

Facebook disagrees with the decision of the DPC. "We have worked to ensure the information we provide is transparent and comprehensive and will continue to do so," said a WhatsApp spokesperson. "We disagree with the decision today regarding the transparency we provided to people in 2018 and the penalties are entirely disproportionate" (via PCMag).

The DPC initially sought a €50 million fine, but separate European data regulators pushed Ireland's regulators to raise the fine.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • I hope Facebook starts getting fined by other countries too. Maybe then they will forego their (to put it mildly) shoddy practices (in relation to data processing of individuals).
  • Indian Government leaks data via Whatsapp. Nobody's taking any action.
  • This fine should now be multiplied by 26. Every single European country should fine the **** out of Facebook.
    To the point they'd have to sell off WhatsApp as the only viable alternative to keep getting fined.
    There's nothing easier than to find Facebook violations of European Laws anyway.
  • Lets not forget google while at it.
  • Not a fan of Facebook or WhatsApp, FB layout is such a mess, they don't even support UWP anymore plus the FB app on my android cant even be removed, either way google and Facebook should be toe to toe in terms of privacy breaches, i'm hoping that Microsoft had some nice social platform that everyone would have loved to move on to, unfortunately unless Facebook decides to shutdown or Microsoft buys em out, none of this will really change.