EPIC said that it had filed a complaint against Facebook and WhatsApp in 2014 when the social media giant bought the messaging app for more than US$14 billion, saying the deal would compromise users' private data despite promises by both companies that “nothing” would change.
According to the advocacy group, the FTC “responded by warning the two companies that they must honor their privacy promises to WhatsApp users. The letter explained that failure to obtain users' opt-in consent before changing data practices would be an unfair and deceptive trade practice and violate Facebook’s FTC Consent Order,” the group said in a press release.
In a blog post announcing the move, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum said sharing user’s phone numbers with Facebook would give its users “more relevant” advertisements and friend suggestions, as well as help combat spam and abusive messages.
Speaking to The New York Times, Marc Rotenberg, president of EPIC, said it would file a complaint this week with the FTC alleging that WhatsApp and Facebook are violating “Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act and, potentially, the FTC's order against Facebook,” according to the FTC’s letter in 2014.
“Many users signed up for WhatsApp and not Facebook, precisely because WhatsApp offered, at the time, better privacy practices,” Rotenberg told the newspaper. “If the FTC does not bring an enforcement action, it means that even when users choose better privacy services, there is no guarantee their data will be protected.”
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