Facebook’s plans to merge WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger are drawing the scrutiny of European data watchdogs. The New York Times first broke plans of the merger on Friday. The Irish Data Protection Commission is asking Facebook for “an urgent briefing on what is being proposed.”
The commission, which regulates Facebook in the European Union, says it understands that the company’s plans are still in initial development and haven’t materialized yet. Still, the commission says it will be seeking “early assurances” that the plans will comply with the GDPR, the European Union’s far-reaching privacy regulation.
The proposed merging of the services has already drawn criticism from US officials, some of whom say that red flags should have been raised when Facebook initially acquired WhatsApp and Instagram. “Imagine how different the world would be if Facebook had to compete with Instagram and WhatsApp. That would have encouraged real competition that would have promoted privacy and benefited consumers,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a lawmaker who represents much of Silicon Valley, said last week.
Another point of contention is that out of the three messaging apps, WhatsApp is the only one to offer end-to-end encryption. If the three merged, there’s the possibility that WhatsApp would lose that key advantage, meaning users who relied on its secure features would seriously lose out.