Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp and other messaging services will be investigated by German regulators, who will check how they handle users’ personal information and whether the ability to send messages between different providers could. strengthen confidentiality.
The German Federal Cartel Office said on Thursday it had opened a sector inquiry into courier services, citing possible violations of consumer protection law. He said the investigation could also help regulators “better understand” whether allowing apps to send messages to each other might prompt users to choose services that do more to protect privacy.
“It is questionable whether and to what extent these services protect personal data,” Andreas Mundt, chairman of the regulator, said in the statement. The survey “will also examine whether and to what extent better interoperability could play a role, for example, in the choice by consumers of providers offering better data protection.”
WhatsApp is the most used messaging app by Germans using Android devices with more than 7 million daily users, according to Statista. Facebook’s Messenger follows with 2.8 million daily users and Microsoft Corp.’s Skype. has approximately 1.8 million daily users.
Facebook declined to immediately comment on the investigation.
WhatsApp only shares limited information with Facebook businesses to help identify users and does not share data that would facilitate ad targeting on Facebook. The company said it would only share this data with the approval of Irish privacy regulators, which govern Facebook’s business in Europe.
Facebook was the latest target of the Federal Cartel Office in an antitrust investigation focused on how the social network tracks user usage of the web. Earlier this year, Facebook lost a legal challenge to the 2019 ruling that ordered it to stop freely collecting and using data and combining it with users’ Facebook accounts without their consent.
The authority broke new ground by using antitrust law to fight data privacy. He has no power under consumer law to order a business to stop certain behavior.