Snapchat app

Car parts manufacturer Continental, one of Germany's biggest companies, has banned the use of the WhatsApp and Snapchat apps on employees' work phones.

The company cited the two apps' intrusive permissions as the reason for the ban, and especially their ability to access a worker's contacts list.

"In the company’s opinion, these services have deficiencies when it comes to data protection, as they access a users’ personal and potentially confidential data such as contacts, and thus the information of third parties who are not involved. In the case of these apps, access to the contact list cannot be restricted," a spokesperson said in a statement announcing the ban, published yesterday.

Continental: The two apps are shifting responsibility to users

Continental said it decided to enforce a ban while reviewing IT solutions used by its employees, as part of its GDPR compliance checks.

"To meet the requirements of the GDPR, each user would, in the case of WhatsApp, need to get the permission of each person in their contact list in order to share their data with these services," Continental said.

"The responsibility for complying with data-protection laws is therefore shifted onto the users of these apps," the spokesperson added. "The company wants to protect its own employees and business partners."

Continental ready to lift the ban if apps change basic settings

It is unclear if the German manufacturer will ban other apps with similar intrusive permissions, but Continental said it is prepared to lift the ban if WhatsApp and Snapchat change basic app settings to make the two apps GDPR compliant.

Other instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or Skype also request access to a device's contact list, but for these apps, access to the contact list is optional, and not part of their default user experience, as it's with WhatsApp and Snapchat.

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