Singapore privacy watchdog seeks clarification over WhatsApp changes

Whatsapp has announced that it would begin sharing data such as users' phone numbers with its parent company, Facebook.
Whatsapp has announced that it would begin sharing data such as users' phone numbers with its parent company, Facebook.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Personal Data Protection Commission has approached Facebook and WhatsApp over recent changes to the popular messaging service's terms and conditions of use.

This move comes after the PDPC received numerous enquiries from members of the public who are concerned about their privacy, according to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao.

WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for US$19 billion (S$25.7 billion) in 2014, announced on Thursday (Aug 25) that it would begin sharing data such as users' phone numbers with its parent company.

This is the first update to its privacy policy in four years.

The change is supposed to make it easier for Facebook to target advertisements and friend recommendations on its social network.

In the coming months, WhatsApp will also start testing a function for businesses to send direct messages such as appointment notifications and marketing material.

 
 

Lawyers told Lianhe Zaobao that they were divided as to whether WhatsApp is genuinely seeking users' consent to the new terms of service. One lawyer said that although the company appears to do so, it may not be adopting sufficient measures to protect user privacy.

The PDPC said that it has approached the relevant companies for further clarifications.