we heard that WhatsApp was forcing its 2 billion users to
either accept an abusive data policy or have their accounts
deleted, the SumOfUs community came together to fight back
-- and we won!
WhatsApp had announced that, from February this year, users
around the world would be forced to agree to their data being
collected and shared with the wider Facebook group, or lose access
to the app!
only was this plan a huge abuse of corporate power, it was actually
illegal! Thanks to the European Union’s strict data laws, Facebook
had already decided not to roll out this policy version in the EU.
But in countries including Brazil -- which has a similar data
protection law -- it was pressing ahead regardless. While
the EU was enjoying its full rights, Brazil and the rest of the
world were not!
-- Facebook 's second biggest market -- was also set to be one of
the countries worst affected by WhatsApp’s policy. Millions of
Brazilians now depend entirely on the app for work and communication
and faced a false choice between forfeiting their data and harming
their livelihoods. How this played out would have global
repercussions. So we sprung into action!
fight was colossal. See below for a summary of our
actions and the victories that reverberated around the
world, winning greater protections for citizens
the partnership between IDEC and SumOfUs, the Brazilian authorities
took unprecedented action, and caused a cascading effect worldwide,
especially in Latin America -- forcing Facebook and WhatsApp to back
down and desist from forcing the more than 2 billion users to accept
the app's abusive and illegal policy. Without SumOfUs, perhaps none
of this would have happened. As members of the movement: be very
proud. This is a historic victory against one of the most powerful
companies in the world! We will continue the fight knowing that, in
fact, when united, we can win the most difficult battles for the
protection of citizens' rights around the
Digital Rights and Telecom Coordinator at IDEC, partner
Appeal from over 200,000 people!
200,000 people worldwide
signed our petition demanding an end to Facebook’s coercive
behaviour, and calling for users who reject the abusive policy to be
allowed to keep their accounts.
complaints against Facebook and WhatsApp: and we
After weeks of searching -- and being
rejected by several law firms too afraid of Facebook to accept the
work -- we finally found a data protection lawyer willing to take
the tech giant on. The stinging legal opinion she went on to write, highlighting the
multiple ways in which the new policy violated the law, became the
basis of a major legal push that ultimately tied Facebook’s
SumOfUs took her legal findings and ran with
them, filing administrative complaints against
Facebook and WhatsApp before various competent authorities, who
responded and thanked us personally for our efforts and the
quality of the materials!!
incredible partnerships and built a global
SumofUs got involved, Brazil’s Consumer Defense Institute (IDEC) was
the only organization challenging this corporate abuse in the
country. We formed a strong partnership, and together built
a movement of more than 90 civil society organizations across Latin
America, who united to take a public stand against the
We were in
all Brazil’s biggest newspapers!
For more than 6 weeks in a row our campaign
was highlighted in the national press! Profiles, interviews and
analyses -- featured in media across the political spectrum -- put
our campaign firmly in the public eye, won new allies and ramped up
the political pressure.
Authorities heard us!
these efforts culminated in unprecedented coordination from federal
authorities, who came together to demand a 90-day repeal of
WhatsApp’s policy in Brazil. This was the first time
something like this had happened in the country’s history!
And it forced the company to do the same across the world!
didn't stop there...
we still weren’t satisfied. We needed to be sure that those who
refused to accept the abusive policy would keep the right to
continue using the app. And after another round of
administrative actions, we won again! On May 28, WhatsApp finally
announced that anyone who did not accept the new policy could
continue using the app, worldwide.
is achieved by walking alone. Along the way we have been
inspired by and joined forces with warriors in India, the US,
Germany, Brazil and elsewhere. The action of each partner
organization, whether individual, collective, public, or otherwise,
was crucial to this victory. We can never say that this was
the fruit of just one organization: it was a collective,
international effort, built step-by-step.
we showed the biggest companies in the world that there are limits
to what they can do -- that they cannot simply bulldoze over our
hard-won rights for the sake of bigger profits. And we made it clear
that the people united will never be