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Privacy groups try to block Facebook WhatsApp deal

Privacy campaigners fear Facebook will use data from WhatsApp for advertising purposes

WhatsApp has committed to not use user data for advertising.
WhatsApp has committed to not use user data for advertising.

Two US-based privacy groups have asked financial regulators to block Facebook's move to buy WhatsApp over privacy concerns.

The two non-profit groups, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, have made a filing against the $19bn deal, stating that Facebook will use data collected by WhatsApp for advertising purposes, something that would be forbidden by WhatsApp's original commitments to privacy.

"WhatsApp built a user-base based on its commitment not to collect user data for advertising revenue," read a complaint filed with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

"Users provided detailed personal information to the company including private text to close friends. Facebook routinely makes use of user information for advertising purposes and has made clear that it intends to incorporate the data of WhatsApp users into the user profiling business model.

"The proposed acquisition will therefore violate WhatsApp users' understanding of their exposure to online advertising and constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade practice, subject to investigation by the Federal Trade Commission."

Facebook has responded by stating that WhatsApp will continue to operate as a separate company and will uphold any commitments to user privacy.