FTC approves Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp, but warns both companies to uphold promises made

FTC approves Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp, but warns both companies to uphold promises made
The FTC has approved the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook. The deal still requires approval from international regulators. Along with the approval, the FTC said that Facebook will have to get the "affirmative consent" of WhatsApp users before using their data for advertising. In a letter written to both companies, the FTC's Jessica L. Rich, the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, warned both companies that they must adhere to promises made to subscribers of WhatsApp before, during, and after the merger announcement.

The promises made include one by WhatsApp indicating that nothing would change after the Facebook acquisition. "Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing …. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication," said an email message to WhatsApp members following news of the $19 billion bid. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg added, "We are absolutely not going to change plans around WhatsApp and the way it uses user data."

The letter from the FTC was sent to Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook, and Anne Hoge, General Counsel at WhatsApp. In the letter, Rich wrote, "WhatsApp's hundreds of millions of users have agreed to use the WhatsApp service and to have WhatsApp collect and transmit their information, with the understanding that these promises will be honored.

WhatsApp members can rest easy, knowing that the FTC has their back in terms of holding Facebook and WhatsApp executives to their word. If WhatsApp wants to change their Terms of Service, the FTC says that it must give members a chance to opt out of any changes, or "at least make it clear to consumers that they have the opportunity to stop using the WhatsApp service."

You can read the letter from Ms. Rich in its entirety, below

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source: FTC, Scribd via TechCrunch
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