European privacy watchdogs don’t shy away from targeting big US technology firms, as previous probes into Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google or Microsoft Corp. have shown. Only their fining powers still lack teeth, which is going to change under new EU rules that will take effect across the bloc in 2018 with penalties possible of as much as 4 percent of a company’s global annual sales.
“We’re working with data protection authorities to address their questions,” WhatsApp said in an e-mailed statement. “We’ve had constructive conversations, including before our update, and we remain committed to respecting applicable law.” In a separate move, the EU panel told Yahoo! Inc. to notify all concerned users of adverse effects following the hacking of accounts in 2014 by cyber-criminals.
The Article 29 Working Party also said it’s concerned about the alleged scanning of Yahoo customers’ incoming e-mails for US intelligence purposes at the request of US agencies and asked the company to provide information on the legal basis and the compatibility with EU law of any such activity. Yahoo representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The privacy watchdogs are set to discuss both matters at the first meeting of their enforcement subgroup in November.