back to article Facebook: Let us tell you WhatsApp – we don't want to pay that €225m GDPR fine

WhatsApp has been fined €225m following a long and drawn out investigation into whether it had provided the necessary data protection information to users under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The fine, along with a slap on the wrist [PDF], has been imposed by the Data Protection Commission (DPC), the …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Law enforcement

    The EU's GDPR allows for serious fines, 20million Euros or up to 4% of group annual global turnover, I believe. This is meant to be a deterrent. This appears to be a test of whether a major and incredibly rich company can actually be held to account in a meaningful way. That is, in a way which will actually get its senior management to pay attention and change their company's behaviour.

    It will be interesting to see what happens next, as it will probably set a precedent for future GDPR litigation in the EU at least, and possibly in the UK, as we have equivalent legislation.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Law enforcement

      But the Eu doesn't prosecute - the national courts of the country you are HQ'ed in does.

      Which is why you are in Ireland, where the DP registrar is a room above a sweetshop, staffed by Mrs Miggins 2days a week.

      If Ireland is going to start actually investigating you - then you might as well move the brass plaque to somewhere more desperate accommodating

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Law enforcement

        I guess you've never actually been to Ireland, have you? Or if you have, not to anywhere beyond short walking distance of Temple Bar, and not on any trip that isn't a stag do?

        1. Valeyard

          Re: Law enforcement

          Not who you're replying to but I'm actually Irish. I've never been specifically to the Data Protection office but I can't imagine it's that wildly different to how they described it

          They've only put down their newspaper in the first place because the EU is making them

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge
        3. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Law enforcement

          I didn't see that as a commentary on all Irish people, but instead on the DPC. As the protection authority with the most power for most large tech companies, it has taken relatively few actions, those actions have been small, and they take a rather long time to get started. Given that Ireland is the European home for these tech companies primarily for tax reasons, it has an incentive to keep them there and competition for that desire, both of which can be helped by lax regulation. Whether that is deliberate or the DPC is just ponderous about enforcement, the desire for it to go faster is widely held.

      2. ratcatcher67

        Re: Law enforcement

        There ya go,

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Law enforcement

      They will appeal and attempt to drag it out as long as possible due to having a copious amount of money to piss away on lawyers. The EU will give in and settle for 1 or 2 million. Or some brown envelopes will be passed round to "make it go away"

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Law enforcement

        >The Eu will give in.

        Again, the Eu isn't in court. This is one bit of the Irish government fighting a case which, if it wins, will destroy a major part of the Irish government's economic plan.

        Of course Ireland being such a beacon of political probity it would never let financial requirements influence any decision

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "We will appeal this decision"

    Well of course you will.

    And when the appeal has found you also guilty, I hope the fine will be doubled.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: "We will appeal this decision"

      While I can rightfully understand your feelings in this case, this is fortunately not how courts work - a right to appeal a decision is something everyone (yes, even Faecebook) should have without fearing reprisals

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: "We will appeal this decision"

        this is fortunately not how courts work

        With many courts, it is exactly how appeals work, often to the unexpected detriment of those appealing.

        It is quite possible for someone convicted of a crime to appeal it, hoping to get it overturned, or the sentence reduced, and then be stung with a harsher sentence, because the whole lot gets reviewed - the verdict and the sentence, and the higher court might decide that the lower court had been unduly lenient. In fact, the apellant (a word my spellchecker doesn't like, but does exist) doesn't even have to be the defendant, or their counsel, it could be any interested party as far as I am aware.

        (IANAL, etc. etc. but my wife does have to deal with such things in the course of her work)

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: "We will appeal this decision"

          I've never heard of this happening in the US, but I guess you're saying it does in the UK or EU?

          1. MrDamage Silver badge

            Re: "We will appeal this decision"

            It was entirely possible in the US, until 2008.


            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: "We will appeal this decision"

              No that indicates one court tried it and the Supreme Court shot it down. So unless you can point to examples where that happened but such an appeal was not successful, it was not possible in the US prior to 2008. I mean, you could argue it is still POSSIBLE today, as a judge is free to rule however he wants without regard to precedent - its just that such rulings will be tossed on appeal.

        2. JassMan

          Re: "We will appeal this decision"

          In fact, the apellant (a word my spellchecker doesn't like, but does exist)

          Your spell checker doesn't like your spelling because the word appellant comes from the word appeal. Both of them have a double p.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: "We will appeal this decision"

            D'oh. You, are, of course, correct.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "We will appeal this decision"

        Is it a right to appeal or a right to request an appeal? ISTR reading once upon a time that an appeal must have some justification such as a material point of law or new evidence not apparent at the original trial. ie there must be grounds for an appeal to be granted, otherwise it may be refused. Also, IIRC, new evidence must be new and newly discovered, and not evidence held back from the original trial simply to have ammunition for a new trial (as seems to be common in big cases in the US)

        IANAL and all of the above may well be incorrect, hence the initial question.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: "We will appeal this decision"

          I think there are various grounds for appeal, other than new evidence becoming apparent, such as a strong argument that the verdict of a previous trial was flawed, or obviously wrong, procedural errors, jury tampering, having some right-wing arsehole with a double-barrelled name, but who likes to use a "blokey" name to pretend he's a "man of the people"* prejudicing a trial by making details public outside the court, etc. etc.

          There are also various things that won't make your verdict eligible for appeal, such as a change in the law after a conviction, which is why gay men convicted of "gross indecency" had to be pardoned rather than having their unfair convictions overturned.

          *Bet you can't guess who I'm referring to here, whose name rhymes with "waxy lemon"

  3. You aint sin me, roit

    Hold on, I'm a "non-user"....

    And WhatsApp have told me nuffink about what they do with my data, or even why they have it. So how have they been transparent?

    Standard parenting rules should apply - double the punishment for lying!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hold on, I'm a "non-user"....

      Just the fact they collect PII about non-users who never opted-in and of course could not ask their data deleted deserves the maximum fine.

  4. Filippo Silver badge

    Screw them sideways.

    I've got friends who want me to get back on WhatsApp, pointing out that they've said they won't slurp data from EU citizens. I said - nope, a declaration of intention of slurping my data is enough to make them suspect.

    I have business contacts on my phone. If it turns out that WhatsApp slurps them, and I somehow authorized this deep in some 250-pages EULA, then I could in theory be liable for a GDPR violation.

    No, nope, no thanks. By all means keep wallowing in that shit, but I can't afford to have any of it stick to me.

  5. dipole

    Irish DPC is a joke and hopefully this fine will stop Dublin being used as a pirate's safe haven for Multinationals who don't respect the privacy of their Customers.

    The fine is only set so high because the Data Protection Agencies of other EU. Countries applied pressure when Ireland's DPC initially proposed a derisory fine.

    Ireland has set out it's stall to Multinationals and makes it clear to them... do what you please, disrespect E.U. laws, engage in arbitrage of any financial or legal laws and we will look the other way so long as you pay a little bit of corporation tax and keep buying overpriced office space in Dublin.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The Irish DPC used to be a joke but the work by Schrems et al. has encouraged changes. But GDPR has also changed the legal basis.

      Then again € 225 million is pocket change for Facebook.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Henry Hallan
      Big Brother

      Signal needs a SIM/phone, so I use Telegram with a tablet and a dumbphone hotspot.

      And here in Ireland the Data Protection folks will all be working from home anyway

  7. ColonelDare

    Signal anybody?

    1. Ken G Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Yes, Signal and Telegram and others.

      Unfortunately the only point of messaging software is to talk to other people and other people don't have to agree with me on the value of privacy or the best tool for achieving it. So I have multiple messaging apps. I dropped WhatsApp when I decided the people who use it exclusively are people I didn't need to talk to and who can pay to talk to me.

      I do judge people by which app they choose but I do that privately too.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        It's time for these apps to enable cross-messaging, so you can choose your preferred service and still message people who choose a different one, without having to keep several different apps and accounts.

        I mean get back to the Internet openness the way it was.

        Imagine if I had to keep different phones for each network because I could only call people on the same network? That's how it is with messaging apps. Totally ridiculous. I refuse What's Crap, I don't care if I'm left out.

        And this is why we need to resist scumbag companies like Faecebook and their attempt to become the de-facto internet service. No excuse for not binning them immediately.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Did anyone?

    Expect anything less from Suckerberg and his minions? With him. it's not the amount of the fine, it's the idea that he can do anything he wants.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Free Apps

    Open traps

    They can all get in the bin!

  10. nojobhopes

    Your data is worth $40

    "The WhatsApp acquisition closed at a steep $16 billion; more than $40 per user of the platform"

    and they aren't going to run it as a public service. They want our data and reckon it is worth more than $40 each.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Your data is worth $40

      Or at least, they reckon they can find another mug who thinks it is. Remember, as long as they find someone else to sell your data to, for more than they paid for it, they are quids in.

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