EU charges Facebook with misleading information on WhatsApp

The European Commission has charged Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) with supplying misleading information during its purchase of WhatsApp, the company may be fined up to $179 million on Tuesday.  The statement of objections has been received by Facebook following the EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, demanding Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) to pay Ireland $14 billion in taxes.

WhatsApp had a privacy policy change in August that stated that some users’ phone numbers would be shared with its parent company Facebook. This had triggered numerous investigations by EU data protection authorities. Facebook has previous indicated that the planned acquisition would not be able to match the two companies’ user accounts.

“The Commission’s preliminary view is that Facebook gave us incorrect or misleading information during the investigation into its acquisition of WhatsApp,” Vestager said. Facebook has until January 31st to respond.  

“We respect the Commission’s process and are confident that a full review of the facts will confirm Facebook has acted in good faith, a Facebook spokeswoman said. “We’ve consistently provided accurate information about our technical capabilities and plans, including in submissions about the WhatsApp acquisition and in voluntary briefings before WhatsApp’s privacy policy update this year,” she continued.

Following this charge, Facebook has halted its sharing of WhatsApp user information with Facebook.  

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