Argentine government suspends policy update on WhatsApp and announces investigation over Facebook

Argentine authorities have ordered Facebook to suspend changes to its privacy policy that would allow the transfer of user data from its WhatsApp messaging service with other platforms of the company, according to a resolution published on Monday in an official newsletter.

The newsletter mentions that this decision was taken to avoid a situation of abuse and dominant position on Facebook’s part, so a period of at least six months of suspension was established in the implementation of this new policy to conduct an investigation into the social network’s motives for implementing these changes. The investigation will be carried out by the National Directorate for the Protection of Personal Data, part of the Agency for Access to Public Information.

As many users will remember, in early 2021 WhatsApp sent its users worldwide an update alert on their data usage policies, which meant that users had to approve these changes to continue using the messaging platform, or stop using it and look for a new option, which would lead to eventual deletion of their account.

The Argentine government concluded that, due to the large number of Facebook users in the country, the company already enjoys a leading position in the social media and mobile applications market. It should be remembered that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, so it has hundreds of millions of users worldwide. The latest data indicates that about 75% of smartphone users in Argentina actively use WhatsApp.

The government’s resolution states that “if the user information exchange established for May 15 of this year is verified, a database of users would be forming with a level of detail that cannot be replicated by other companies.” The Argentine Trade Secretariat considered this intervention necessary because they believed that there was a significant disparity in forces in the relationship between users and WhatsApp: “In practice, users are forced to accept the updated terms of service, allowing the company to collect all kinds of personal data for marketing purposes and that could also be shared with other platforms owned by Facebook,” says a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce.

Other countries such as Germany, Brazil, Italy, the United States, Turkey and India are expected to announce similar measures in the coming weeks. To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.