Prosecutors investigate WhatsApp for privacy policy changes

whatsapp privacy policy
Photo: Primakov/Shutterstock

Federal prosecutors in São Paulo have opened an investigation into how WhatsApp is dealing with customer data. They want to know if and how the company is sharing information on its users with Instagram and Facebook, as the three tech giants are owned by the same parent company, Meta. WhatsApp is currently installed on 99 percent of Brazilian smartphones. 

A WhatsApp update was announced last year and sparked negative reactions from consumer defense services as it was initially reported that access to the app was conditioned to the acceptance of the new terms. In an ordinance published on the Federal Prosecution Office’s official gazette, prosecutor Yuri Corrêa da Luz claims that “it remains unclear whether WhatsApp has implemented all or part of the changes in its terms as announced in January 2021.”

He also claims that the messaging company has continued to ask users to accept the terms, which “could have led many to accept them without reflection.”

Mr. Luz mentions that multiple Brazilian watchdogs — and even other countries — have investigated WhatsApp for possible infringement of users’ privacy rights. Italy and Argentina have even slapped fines on the company for including abusive clauses in its privacy policy terms. 

In a statement to magazine Veja, WhatsApp said its new policies have not granted it more data-sharing permissions. 

Approved in 2018, Brazil’s General Data Protection Law — known in Brazil as the LGPD — came into force in September 2020, but only since August 2021 has data protection watchdog ANPD been allowed to punish companies based on the new regulations.

Companies found guilty of poor practices can now be fined up to BRL 50 million (USD 9.4 million) or 2 percent of the company’s turnover for each infraction.