ICO investigates WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing deal

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will investigate WhatsApp's decision to share users' data with Facebook, it has confirmed.

Elizabeth Denham, the new information commissioner, said she plans to "pull back the curtain" on exactly how people's data is being shared between the two firms, following yesterday's announcement.

WhatsApp will let businesses chat to users on its platform for the first time in the next few months, but also changed its terms and conditions to allow it to pass users' information onto its parent company Facebook, which bought it for 11.2 billion in 2014.

The UK's data watchdog said there may be nothing wrong with the decision to share data, but that it has a responsibility to check.

Denham said in a statement: "The changes WhatsApp and Facebook are making will affect a lot of people. Some might consider it'll give them a better service, others may be concerned by the lack of control.

"Our role is to pull back the curtain on things like this, ensuring that companies are being transparent with the public about how their personal data is being shared, and protecting consumers by making sure the law is being followed.

"We've been informed of the changes. Organisations do not need to get prior approval from the ICO to change their approaches, but they do need to stay within data protection laws. We are looking into this."

WhatsApp believes that by sharing data with Facebook, the social network can serve better adverts to users, as well as allowing the chat platform "to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp".