HANOVER, Germany—Continental A.G. has banned the use of some social media apps including WhatsApp and Snapchat within its global network, effective immediately. The move is intended to protect its employees and partners from unintended data breaches.
The German technology and automotive supplier said in a June 5 statement that it believed some social medial services have deficiencies when it comes to data protection. Recently, Conti said it has been monitoring the business practices of certain software and IT service providers, paying careful attention to data security in particular.
In particular, the banned social media apps have access to personal and potentially confidential user data, such as contacts lists, without restriction.
"The responsibility for complying with data-protection laws is therefore shifted onto the users of these apps," the firm said. "The risks this poses in terms of data protection are not ones the company is willing to take."
Continental added that is prepared to lift this ban should the basic settings of these apps change to reflect compliance with data-protection regulations by default.
In a statement, Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart said the firm takes the responsibility of data protection very seriously and pointed to the company's "Vision Zero" policy, which aims to eliminate road traffic accidents. While autonomous and connected vehicles are at the crux of this vision, Continental said the protection of collected data and personal information must remain essential.
"Personal data is not a fundamental requirement for connected, automated and autonomous driving. For most applications, anonymous data is entirely sufficient," Degenhart said.
He added that Continental must require the same level of commitment from other businesses.
"Data is an obligation. Technology providers, in particular, must make it as easy as possible to ensure compliance with data protection laws," he said. "Technology leaders, in particular, have a major responsibility in this regard. This is why data protection is definitely not just an optional extra for us, our products, our services and our processes. This fundamental attitude will strengthen global trust in new, data-based mobility services in the long term."