WhatsApp, the messaging application owned by Facebook Inc, was fined a record 225 million euro by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission on Thursday for the app’s privacy breaches, Reuters reported.
Initially, the fine was 50 million euro, said the Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems, who has taken on Facebook in several privacy cases. The penalty was raised to 225 million euro after the EU privacy watchdog, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), pressured the Irish regulator to do so.
According to Ireland’s DPC, the lead data privacy regulator for Facebook within the European Union, the issue dates back to December 2018 and whether the messaging app conformed with EU data rules about transparency.
“This includes information provided to data subjects about the processing of information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies,” the Irish regulator said in a statement.
The regulator also added that during a July meeting, the EDPB had issued a “clear instruction that required the DPC to reassess and increase its proposed fine on the basis of a number of factors.”
“Following this reassessment, the DPC has imposed a fine of 225 million euros on WhatsApp,” said the Irish regulator, which had 14 major inquiries open as of the end of 2020 into Facebook and its subsidiaries, WhatsApp and Instagram.
It also reprimanded and ordered WhatsApp to comply with the EU regulations by taking “a range of specified remedial actions.”
Calling the fine “entirely disproportionate,” WhatsApp said that it would appeal. “We disagree with the decision today regarding the transparency we provided to people in 2018 and the penalties are entirely disproportionate,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson also added that the company had provided comprehensive information.
“It is to be expected that this case will now be before the Irish Courts for years, and it will be interesting to see if the DPC is actively defending this decision before the courts, as it was forced to make such a decision by its EU colleagues at the EDPB,” said Schrems, who added that he would be monitoring the company’s appeal.