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WhatsApp Fined By Ireland's Data Watchdog. Virtue Signalling to Make Money?

WhatsApp is fined $267 million for breaching EU privacy rules

I believe forming the perception of fighting for a good cause can be a Machiavellian move to take value from the "bad" guy.

The data protection regulators have been fining companies for breaching data protection regulations.
However, the people who need to be compensated in my opinion are the consumers if their data has been breached.

The consumers do get compensated sometimes just to be clear, but I think the regulators take a bulk of the money.
Let me know if I'm getting this wrong.

As such the regulators can two benefits from fining companies:

  • They virtue-signal as taking action for the good of the consumers
  • They make a lot of money from the fines

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said Thursday that WhatsApp did not tell European Union citizens enough about what it does with their data.

The regulator said WhatsApp failed to tell Europeans how their personal information is collected and used, as well as how WhatsApp shares data with Facebook.

It has ordered the platform, which is used by 2 billion people worldwide, to tweak its privacy policies and how it communicates with users so that it complies with Europe’s privacy law. As a result, WhatsApp may have to expand its privacy policy, which some users and companies have already criticized for being too long and complex.

This sounds incredibly vague and like they needed some scapegoat to warn companies about developing detailed privacy policies.
Isn't it more important to dig into how WhatsApp handles consumers' data whether that's possible or not?

Certianly possible that it's a move to make money and virtue signal.

And also a move to justify one's own existence.

You make a privacy watchdog, and to justify their presence -and their salaries- they need to pursue at least someone.
Plus, for PR, it's in their interest to make it seem like pursuing privacy on citizens' behalf is a worthy goal.

But I don't know enough about the details to weigh in.
Privacy is not something I've ever been too interested about.
And in my view, if you use a product without paying, you should expect they're going to try to monetize it somehow.
Them using your data might actually be a great exchange for the final user as well.
But again, not an expert, not my topic.

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Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on September 15, 2021, 2:18 pm

Certianly possible that it's a move to make money and virtue signal.

And also a move to justify one's own existence.

You make a privacy watchdog, and to justify their presence -and their salaries- they need to pursue at least someone.
Plus, for PR, it's in their interest to make it seem like pursuing privacy on citizens' behalf is a worthy goal.

I think this is the main danger of making watchdogs or organisations pursue an overly specific goal or worse a specific metric.

Even if there is nothing happening, the organisation and the people working inside are incentivised to make something happen.

Prosecutors, watchdogs, sales metrics focused only on closing (maybe the customer is not good in the long run, product & technology need to do more work) are some examples at the top of my head.

The watchdog should be incentivised to reward companies for good privacy practices as a balance.
Although this may still not work out so well.
Any time an organisation becomes transactional and overly focused on specific goals & metrics, things don't work out so well.

But I don't know enough about the details to weigh in.
Privacy is not something I've ever been too interested about.
And in my view, if you use a product without paying, you should expect they're going to try to monetize it somehow.
Them using your data might actually be a great exchange for the final user as well.
But again, not an expert, not my topic.

I suppose if one does most things ethically, one has much less to worry about when it comes to data and private information leaking.

Personally, I'm in the middle.
I don't go out of my way to share private information to harm myself.
I take the necessary precautions.
But I don't go overboard and stop using social media for example.

I wouldn't like to live in China where there's too much surveillance.
I'm worried about tech monopolies though where I may not be able to negotiate my privacy online in the future any longer.

Imagine the day that everyone buys their groceries online.
And Amazon charges tomato lovers more for tomatoes than normal people.
Maybe then I'll be more worried.

To be fair, this already happens with buying plane tickets online, but one can just buy the tickets in Incognito.

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Lucio Buffalmano
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