The Irish Data Protection Commission has questions for Facebook

Plans to merge Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram prompts request for an “urgent briefing”

Facebook icon displayed on a smartphone before a screen with the full logo

Facebook's plans to merge the backends of Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram to unify the platforms may have only emerged on Friday, but lawmakers are already taking a keen interest in the possible privacy ramifications.

Now, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has thrown its hat into the ring, seeking an "urgent briefing" from Facebook about what it means for data protection.

"While we understand that Facebook's proposal to integrate the Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram platforms is at a very early conceptual stage of development, the Irish DPC has asked Facebook Ireland for an urgent briefing on what is being proposed," its statement read.

"The Irish DPC will be very closely scrutinising Facebook's plans as they develop, particularly insofar as they involve the sharing and merging of personal data between different Facebook companies.

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"Previous proposals to share data between Facebook companies have given rise to significant data protection concerns and the Irish DPC will be seeking early assurances that all such concerns will be fully taken into account by Facebook in further developing this proposal.

"It must be emphasised that ultimately the proposed integration can only occur in the EU if it is capable of meeting all of the requirements of the GDPR."

For those keen on protecting their privacy, the move to merge the platforms is very much a double-edged sword. On one hand, the move will ensure that all three apps are protected by end-to-end encryption - something that currently only applies to WhatsApp - but on the other, it could give Facebook even greater insights into its users' habits.  

When both WhatsApp and Instagram were acquired by Facebook, their founders gave assurances that they would run independently from the social network. Now the founders of each have left the company, it looks like Facebook has a different path in mind.

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