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Concerned about WhatsApp and Facebook’s data pooling? So is the ICO

The UK’s data protection regulator has announced it is looking into Facebook’s plans to use WhatsApp customer data to within the social network

Privacy fears were raised earlier this week when a change in WhatsApp privacy policy revealed it users’ phone numbers would be passed to the parent company to inform ads and provide better friend suggestions.

Under the switch, WhatsApp users’ activity, such as when they were last seen using the app, would also be passed onto Zuckerberg.

Related: WhatsApp privacy fallout: How to stop Facebook stealing your user data

Mirroring the concerns of many Brits, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said it will monitor how WhatsApp data is shared with the Facebook.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement: “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.”

Denham said ICO planned to ‘pull back the curtain’ and ensure both Facebook and WhatsApp were providing users with the requisite transparency.

She added: “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,”

Plenty of users have objected to the plans, with many choosing to opt out and not to share the details with Facebook.

Here’s how you can ensure your phone number doesn’t get swallowed up by the Facebook monster.

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