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Facebook’s EU privacy watchdog urged to probe data sharing

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Facebook Inc.’s controversial use of WhatsApp customer data is set for further scrutiny in the European Union after regulators raised doubts about the social media giant’s updated policy, according to Bloomberg.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB), a panel of EU authorities, on Thursday said Facebook’s practices should be examined by the Irish privacy watchdog, its main regulator in the region.

The EDPB stopped short of imposing a provisional EU-wide ban on data access, as requested by the Hamburg data privacy commissioner.

The German authority in May imposed a three-month banning order on Facebook to stop it collecting German users’ data from its WhatsApp unit, asking EU regulators to take a bloc-wide decision.

“Considering the high likelihood of infringements in particular for the purpose of safety, security and integrity of WhatsApp and other Facebook units, the EDPB considered that this matter requires swift further investigations,” said the EU body in a statement.

The probe would add to some 28 investigations. The Irish Data Protection Commission has open into Silicon Valley giants, including Apple Inc. and Google, who all have their EU base in Ireland. Facebook accounts for nine of these investigations and more are pending into its WhatsApp and Instagram units.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gave data regulators unprecedented powers to fine companies as much as 4% of their annual sales.

Considering “the lack of information as regards how data are processed for marketing purposes, cooperation with the other Facebook Companies and in relation to WhatsApp,” the EU watchdogs said the Irish authority had to investigate the role of Facebook in the data processing.