The social network had come under pressure from the pan-European data protection agency group, the Article 29 Working Party in October. The group of privacy watchdogs said it had serious concerns over Facebook’s use of the data, including user phone numbers. It asked the social network to pause its WhatsApp data collection.
Facebook has now halted the use of the collected data for advertising and product improvement purposes, which would enable it to link Facebook and WhatsApp accounts for users who have both.
Facebook’s European operations are based in Ireland, where it is regulated by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s office.
A spokesperson for the Irish privacy watchdog told the Irish Times: “During our engagements with Facebook, it was confirmed that, for the moment, Facebook Ireland is not proceeding to process European user data from WhatsApp for the purposes of serving ads and enhancing the Facebook service.”
The Irish data protection authority said that it was investigating Facebook’s data practices regarding the sharing of WhatsApp data.