EU OFFICIALS have expressed concern over Facebook's plans to merge Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp into a single 'back-end'.
The move will allow users to communicate between the three Facebook platforms, but will also involve changing the terms and conditions of each site, most notably privacy policies, to bring parity.
The Data Protection Commission, an Irish-based wing of the EU, has requested an urgent briefing with Facebook to go 360 on the proposals.
"The Irish DPC will be very closely scrutinising Facebook's plans as they develop, particularly in so far as they involve the sharing and merging of personal data between different Facebook companies," the watchdog said.
One of the conditions for Facebook's multi-billion dollar take over of WhatsApp was that it was siloed from the main Facebook operation for data protection purposes, although it soon became clear that Facebook had a potential loophole.
In 2016, the UK's Information Commissioner said that the move could be used to improve advertising served to users between the two services and both it and the EU chose to slam the brakes on, branding it unlawful.
Now, with GDPR in effect and Facebook promising to adhere to it, Facebook is trying again.
The DPC adds: "Previous proposals to share data between Facebook companies have given rise to significant data protection concerns and the Irish DPC will be seeking early assurances that all such concerns will be fully taken into account by Facebook in further developing this proposal. It must be emphasised that ultimately the proposed integration can only occur in the EU if it is capable of meeting all of the requirements of the GDPR."
The timeline for the merger has not been revealed and although the work has already begun, it has been described as a ‘long journey' with expectations that it won't launch before Q4 at the earliest and more likely in 2020.
Facebook is under almost as much scrutiny as Huawei in recent months, after repeatedly breaching the understood limits of its service in the quest for cash.
Yesterday, Sir Nick "I agree with Facebook" Clegg made his first public appearance as Facebook's new golden boy, promising that Facebook understood the work ahead of it and that he would be working to help Facebook clean up its act. μ
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