The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI) issued a three-month emergency ban on Tuesday, which is permitted under the General Data Protection Regulation. The watchdog will now seek a binding decision covering the whole EU from the European Data Protection Board (EDPB).
Johannes Caspar, who heads the authority, said the order aimed to protect the rights and freedoms of the nearly 60 million WhatsApp users in Germany. He also cited fears about their data being used to influence voters’ decisions in the September federal elections in the country:
The worldwide criticism against the new terms of service should give reason to fundamentally rethink the consent mechanism once again. Without user trust, no business model based on data can be successful in the long run.
In response, Facebook said it’s considering an appeal against the ban. A WhatsApp spokesperson said the order is “based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of WhatsApp’s update and therefore has no legitimate basis.” They added that the order “will not impact the continued roll-out of the update.”
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