Turkey launches probe after WhatsApp’s updated terms see users’ data shared with parent company Facebook

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The Turkish government has launched an investigation into Facebook and WhatsApp after changes to the messaging app’s terms and conditions force users to share personal data with its corporate parent Facebook.

Unless WhatsApp users agree to the new terms and conditions, they will be shut out of the app on February 8. On Monday, Turkey’s Competition Board said it had launched an investigation into WhatsApp and Facebook, ruling that the sharing of data should be suspended until its probe is finished.

“As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies,” the new WhatsApp policy reads. “We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”

The Competition Board said the mandatory sharing of data potentially breaches Turkey’s competition law and says the updated terms must be put on hold while it investigates further.

The media office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly shut down its WhatsApp groups over privacy concerns on Monday. Ankara called for a Turkey-wide boycott on the messaging app in a stand against what it dubbed ‘digital fascism’.

There are nearly one billion users of WhatsApp worldwide and the app was downloaded 58 million times in November, with 17 million of those coming from its biggest market, India, where there are more than 400 million users.

The updated terms state that WhatsApp will share data with “businesses” and, therefore, by extension, with government and law enforcement agencies.

WhatsApp, founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, was bought by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014.

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