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France orders WhatsApp to seek users’ permission before giving data to Facebook

France's data protection agency on Monday told messaging app WhatsApp it needs to obtain users' permission to transfer some information to its parent company Facebook and gave it a month to comply.

France orders WhatsApp to seek users' permission before giving data to Facebook
Photo: AFP
“Should WhatsApp fail to comply with the formal notice within the specified timescale” the National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) said it may take actions that could lead to a sanction against the company.
 
It added that “no further action will be taken if the company complies with the Act within the specified timescale.”
 
After its purchase in 2014 WhatsApp issued new terms of service notifying users that it would transfer their data to its new parent company Facebook.
 
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France fines Facebook for collecting users' data without them knowingPhoto: AFP 

CNIL said that it considers the transfer of some data for security purposes to be legal, but that the sharing of non-essential information to improve the function of the app was not as users were not given the possibility to opt out.
   
It mentioned in particular the transfer of data about users such as their phone number and how they use the app as needing specific permission from users.
   
CNIL said “WhatsApp cannot claim a legitimate interest to massively transfer data to the company Facebook Inc. insofar as this transfer does not provide adequate guarantees allowing to preserve the interest or the fundamental freedoms of users since there is no mechanism whereby they can refuse it while continuing to use the application.”
 
France's CNIL has regularly clashed with internet giants such as Facebook and Google over protection of user data.
   
It noted in its statement on Monday that the European Commission in May fined Facebook 110 million euros ($120 million) for providing incorrect and misleading information on its takeover of WhatsApp.

LIVING IN FRANCE

France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

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