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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

WhatsApp, 50,000 euros sanction of the Antitrust Authority

The Antitrust Authority imposed a fine of 50,000 euros to WhatsApp, for not having executed the order of publication of the provision with which the unfairness of certain clauses of the Terms of Use of the WhatsApp Messenger application was ascertained. This is reported by a note from the Guarantor Authority stating that WhatsApp, violating the information obligations regarding consumers, has knowingly omitted the provisions of the provision, namely the publication of this document on the homepage of its website and the contextual notification in the app, to be sent to all Italian WhatsApp users, containing the link to the same publication.

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Among the clauses, previously characterized as vexatious, the faculty of unilateral changes to the contract by the company, the right of withdrawal established solely for the benefit of the trader. "We are at the comedians! A fine to say the least ridiculous," said Massimiliano Dona, president of the National Consumers Union.
The other clauses of WhatsApp considered vexatious are the exclusions and limitations of liability in its favor, the unjustified interruptions of the service, the choice of the competent court on disputes (to date exclusively identified at American courts). The Authority specifies that the 50,000 that WhatsApp will have to pay are the maximum edict of sanction currently established by the legislation for the failure to comply with the measures to ascertain the vexaturity.

"The fact that this is the maximum sanction that the Antitrust Authority can issue in these cases, shows that it is urgent for the legislator to raise the amount of fines comminable by the authorities" added Dona, stating that "until it is established that the fines must be at least higher than the illegal gain obtained with illegitimate practices we will not go anywhere ".

In particular, the Authority took into account not only the importance of the professional and his conscious refusal to publish the extract of the Authority's decision, but also the fact that the publication is the only instrument that assists the assessment of vexaturity in the current legislation, which, at present, does not provide for the imposition of pecuniary administrative sanctions at the end of the administrative procedure to ascertain the vexatiousness of the contractual clauses.

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