WhatsApp challenges DPC’s €225 million fine

WhatsApp has issued legal proceedings challenging the €225 million fine it was recently handed by the Data Protection Commission (DPC).

Commissioner Helen Dixon earlier this month imposed a record €225 million fine on the company for “severe” breaches of privacy laws. This was the largest penalty ever handed down by her office and the second highest under the European Union’s GDPR rules.

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, had said it intended to appeal the ruling, claiming the penalties were disproportionate. A case was initiated in the High Court on Wednesday.

As The Irish Times revealed earlier this week, WhatsApp had expected a heavier fine than it received. The company’s Irish subsidiary increased provisions for liabilities to €246.2 million last year, up from €77.5 million in 2019, as it awaited a decision by the commission.

WhatsApp’s Irish unit estimated it would receive fines of between €245 million and €250 million, according to company accounts recently lodged in Dublin.

Ms Dixon had initially proposed a €30 million-€50 million fine on the company, which was challenged by other regulators. WhatsApp, meanwhile, originally estimated that the penalty it would receive would be in the €35 million-€105 million range.

WhatsApp established an Irish subsidiary in 2017. Its key role is acting as the data controller for European users of the WhatsApp service, and for the provision of services to other group entities.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in a $19 billion deal in 2014 when it had just 14 employees and 420 million monthly users. It now has more than two billion active users.

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The DPC earlier this week confirmed it has launched two separate investigations into the video-driven social media platform TikTok. It said it is examining TikTok’s compliance with Europe’s GDPR requirements in its processing of children’s personal data.

The commission is also looking at the issue of transfers of data to China, where TikTok’s parent ByteDance is based to see if they comply with the obligations set down by EU data protection law.


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