Privacy Advocates Look to Block Facebook’s WhatsApp Purchase

online_privacy_redbutton1Facebook’s $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging app that’s wildly popular overseas, raised many eyebrows not only for the exorbitant price but for the potential privacy implications the transaction could hold for WhatsApp users. The app has over 450 million users, all of whom had no idea their data and information would one day fall into the hands of Facebook. That’s why, this week, privacy advocates filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission seeking to block Facebook’s purchase.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy say that the purchase pulls the rug out from under WhatsApp users, unfairly luring them into Facebook’s data pool when they potentially didn’t want to be.

“WhatsApp users could not reasonably have anticipated that by selecting a pro-privacy messaging service, they would subject their data to Facebook’s data-collection practices,” read the groups’ FTC filing.

For its part, WhatsApp has said that they will continue to operate as an independent company and will preserve all of the same privacy policies that they had before their sale to Facebook.

It’s easy to see why Facebook wanted WhatsApp under its umbrella. The site was formed in 2009 and is one of the fastest growing web services in the world, already surpassing Twitter, Instagram and Skype. However, the terms of the purchase may have to change depending on the ultimate outcome of this FTC complaint.