Facebook has denied it intends sharing WhatsApp users’ contact lists with other Facebook properties when it introduces new terms and conditions soon that have caused an uproar among consumers.
On Wednesday, the Information Regulator said Facebook may not share any contact information it collects from WhatsApp users with its other properties without first obtaining authorisation from the regulator to do so.
“To be clear, this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook and does not impact the privacy of your messages with friends or family wherever they are in the world,” it said.
“WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook and that policy applies to users everywhere, including in South Africa,” it added. According to the WhatsApp website, the app only access the phone numbrers in users’ address books “to make messaging fast and reliable”.
“We don’t share your contacts lists with the other apps Facebook offers.”
Reuters quoted the Information Regulator on Wednesday as saying that WhatsApp “cannot, without obtaining prior authorisation from the Information Regulator, process any contact information of its users for a purpose other than the one for which the number was specifically intended at collection, with the aim of linking that information jointly with information processed by other Facebook companies”.
The chair of the regulator, Pansy Tlakula, said, too, that she is concerned that citizens in the European Union will receive higher privacy protection than users in South Africa and the rest of Africa.
“Our legislation is very similar to that of the EU. It was based on that model deliberately, as it provides a significantly better model for the protection of personal information than that in other jurisdictions,” she said, according to Reuters. “We do not understand why Facebook has adopted this differentiation between Europe and Africa.”