Following an investigation into WhatsApp transparency around sharing personal data with other Facebook firms, Ireland smacked the messaging app with a 225 million euro ($266 million) fine on Thursday.
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, said the sentence was “very unreasonable” and that it would appeal the decision.
The issues revolved around whether WhatsApp complied with EU data transparency rules in 2018. According to Ireland’s Data Privacy Commissioner (DPC), which is the lead data privacy regulator for Facebook within the European Union.
The Irish regulatory body said in a recent statement that “This includes information provided to data subjects about the processing of information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies.”
While reacting to the decision, a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement that the issues in question-related to policies in place in 2018.
“WhatsApp is committed to providing a secure and private service. We have worked to ensure the information we provide is transparent and comprehensive and will continue to do so.
“We disagree with the decision today regarding the transparency we provided to people in 2018 and the penalties are entirely disproportionate,” the spokesperson added.
Because Facebook’s regional headquarters are in Dublin, the DPC takes the lead on data protection for the corporation.
Other European authorities have previously chastised the DPC for taking too long to reach rulings concerning big tech companies and for not fining them harshly enough for any violation they commit.
After Ireland shared its provisional verdict in respect to the WhatsApp investigation recently, which began in December 2018, data authorities from eight other European countries activated a dispute resolution mechanism.
The European Data Protection Board issued a “clear instruction that required the DPC to reassess and increase its proposed fine on the basis of a number of factors contained” in July, according to the Irish regulator.
The statement read, “Following this reassessment, the DPC imposed a fine of 225 million euros on WhatsApp.”
The Irish regulator also issued a reprimand as well as an order for WhatsApp to bring its processing in line with the law by implementing “a range of specified remedial actions.”
As of the end of last year, the Irish regulator had 14 major investigations into Facebook and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram open.