It is used by two billion people globally each month.

For some it's a vital communication tool, the way they stay in touch with family, friends, work, social, sporting and community groups.

For others it’s an unavoidable menace of constant messages that have to be checked, responded to and more often ignored.

But amidst all that ringing and pinging, how many of us actually stop and think much about how our data is being used by WhatsApp and what we are being told about that?

Perhaps after today’s massive fine on the company for breaching EU privacy rules, more will pause for thought.

Because the fine is hugely significant – not just because it is an awful lot of money.

It represents the first fine on anything like this scale from the Data Protection Commission (DPC) – a body that has endured an ongoing campaign of criticism locally and internationally over its perceived slow pace and lack of decisiveness in bringing big tech firms to heel.

The fine shows, though, that the General Data Protection Regulation does have sharp teeth and that the DPC isn’t afraid to bite with them.

Yes, it did have to be forced by EU peers and the European Data Protection Board to increase the level of the fine from around €50m to the eye-watering €225m.

But that was down to a difference of opinion on the interpretation of a particular part of what remains a relatively new law, rather than an unwillingness to take on powerful interests.

The GDPR says that when there are multiple infringements, the maximum fine should be based on the worst one.

The DPC interpreted that as meaning that while there were four violations by WhatsApp, the penalty could only reflect the most serious of those – an interpretation the European Data Protection Board disagreed with, deciding that fines for each of the four could be added together.

In time, a promised appeal by WhatsApp will likely determine who was wrong and who was right on that.

The fine was also the second largest anywhere in the EU for data protection breaches since GDPR came in three years ago.

Only Luxembourg has meted out more, with its €746m penalty on Amazon.

But with a raft of other cross-border big tech cases still under investigation by the Data Protection Commission and other EU regulators, larger fines will undoubtedly follow as precedent is set.

Big tech firms may have deep pockets, but eventually as fines creep higher, it will begin to hurt the bottom line.

That in turn should prompt a change in attitude and behaviour.

Today's decision is also significant because it provides data controllers everywhere with fresh insight into what regulators are thinking about very specific issues, in this case transparency.

It is, in a way, case law that will go on to inform future decision-making.

But more than anything else the fine will serve to attract the attention of ordinary users of WhatsApp and other social and messaging platforms.

The dense detail of the 266-page DPC decision will be lost on most of us.

However, the thrust of it shouldn't be.

Your data is sensitive, it is valuable and you own it.

Sure, the price for "free" use of internet based platforms is often the sharing of your data with the provider so they can leverage it to make money from you.

But that transaction does come with data protection responsibilities for the companies concerned.

Users do need to start paying more attention to what they are being told and more importantly what they aren’t about how their data is processed and used before signing up.

Awareness is key. And a €225m fine is a pretty effective way of raising it.