back to article UK watchdog: You. Facebook. Get over here now. This WhatsApp privacy update. Explain

The UK's new Privacy Commissioner has fired a warning shot across Facebook's bow over its privacy policy update. In a brief statement, Elizabeth Denham warned the social media giant that the changes it was making – most significant of which was to pull personal information, including phone numbers, from users of the WhatsApp …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Let's hope she's starting as she means to carry on.

    1. Vimes

      Given the lack of action from the ICO in the past I'm not hopeful.

      There's a hell a lot of inertia there against taking action that she'll have to confront within her own organisation before she gets anywhere with this.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...pull personal information – including phone numbers – from users of the WhatsApp chat app into Facebook..."

    All your data are belong to U.S.

  3. Baldy50

    I doubt it!

    Just imagine how much fun you could have if you could be bothered.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can't fake the phone number, though, because there's a confirmation text to open the account. If that phone number is tied to anything else (and you have to pay for it somehow) you're boned.

  4. Teiwaz

    Barking at the burglar...

    Barking at the burglar when he comes back for the change under the sofa,after having emptied the house this sounds like.

    Elizabeth must be a Whatsapp user...

    Not that I don't think Facebook doesn't deserve a damn good British spanking, trousers down (seem to have gone into General Melchett mode, sorry), but this isn't anything new Facebook wise, it's only 'cause everyone thinks Whatsapp is sort of not Facebook.

    I doubt the watchdog has teeth enough for more than bark, and if it does, for more than a gnats bite.

    These 'services' are too embedded in peoples lives for them to cut the string just due to a T&C change, they'd need an ad campaign from Carol Vorderman on the Beeb to tell them of alternate options or something more viral to reach them (as Whatapp did initially).

  5. Andrew Jones 2

    Oh no - the UK regulator which is probably world famous by now for talking loudly and occasionally slapping someones wrist and saying "don't do it again". Whatever will Facebook do now.... probably nothing and the ICO will probably go - "we aren't terribly happy about this, make the privacy policy a bit clearer and a bit simpler, and the option for people to opt-out a bit more obvious and we'll say no more about it"

  6. Number6

    Informed Choice

    Provided it gets enough publicity so people know what will happen if they continue to use WhatsApp, then she will have achieved something even if nothing else changes. Most people don't care about sharing their personal details.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They were already doing this long before they announced it. More than 6 months ago I had people appearing as "People you may know" on a fake empty Facebook account, that were on my WhatsApp contacts. Some of them I didn't even know their last name yet they appeared there. The only connection was my phone number that was connected to both.

    1. Doctor_Wibble

      The problem as ever is other people

      > Some of them I didn't even know their last name yet they appeared there. The only connection was my phone number that was connected to both.

      It's possible FB/WA were already 'sharing' (i.e. 'co-thieving'*) info but I think the most likely explanation is that the biggest threat to your privacy is from your closest friends - remember, people kept at arm's length are not close enough to stab you in the back. The adage of 'keep friends close, enemies closer' just does not work in the internet age unless you have sandpaper, lemon juice and a soldering iron ready for the occasion.

      On the other hand if it's not your 'real' phone number you might count this as a small victory.

      * TBH anything other than 'sharing' would be an improvement if it properly conveyed the presumptive arrogance of those who think the letter is more important than the spirit.

      1. DavCrav

        Re: The problem as ever is other people

        "people kept at arm's length are not close enough to stab you in the back"

        Depends if they have longer arms than you. And Facebook has very long arms.

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    I'm declining the new WhatsCrap T&C's for now - until I can see where things are heading to.

    BUT should WhatsCrap start shoving adverts into world+dog's faces, I'll uninstall Whatsapp, and move over to Telegram or something else.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Decline or uninstall

      Once you've used something online that needs a real number to send a confirmation text, it's game over. Uninstalling or declining won't work, unless you bin the phone number, i.e. new SIM.

      1. Andrew 99

        Re: Decline or uninstall

        Use a burner number, like so

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can opt out if you scroll down.

  9. Crisp

    Now that the authorities are involved maybe something will get done.

    Mind you, these are the same authorities that watched V-Tech give away the names and locations of kids and did pretty much bugger all. If I was Zuckerberg I wouldn't be worried.

  10. xyz Silver badge

    Looking forward...

    ...To the husband of whose wife I'm"seeing" getting in touch as Facebook will determine we have similar interests. Oh and all my exgirlfriends suddenly becoming best mates. the joys of connectivity!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Looking forward...

      You're scum and deserve worse.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zuk got forgiveness ....

    ....from the pope, so its all ok.... He now has a stairway to heaven no matter what...

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