WhatsApp finally agrees to comply with EU’s data and comms rules

  • The European Commission today confirmed that WhatsApp has agreed to comply with its rules when it comes to communicating terms of service with customers.
  • This stems from the backlash and exodus the messaging platform suffered by WhatsApp at the beginning of 2021.
  • At the time, the company told users that they had to accept the new update and terms of service, or risk losing access to the service.

The European Commission has confirmed that WhatsApp has finally agreed to comply with the EU’s rules in terms of how the messaging platform communicates with its users and implements its terms of service.

This decision is part of a far longer push for commitment from the Meta-owned platform following a backlash from users and the threat of a mass exodus back at the beginning of 2021.

On the back of the backlash, WhatsApp opted to delay a mandatory update that forced users to adhere to its terms of service or risk losing access to the platform, but the damage was done. This as the European Commission in July of 2021 lodged a complaint against the Meta-owned messaging application, warning that failure to address concerns could result in blocking of WhatsApp.

Now, more than 18 months later the platform has finally acquiesced.

“Following a dialogue with EU consumer protection authorities and the European Commission (CPC network), WhatsApp committed to being more transparent on changes to its terms of service. Moreover, the company will make it easier for users to reject updates when they disagree with them, and will clearly explain when such rejection leads the user to no longer be able to use WhatsApp’s services,” the European Commission explained in a press release.

“Also, WhatsApp confirmed that users’ personal data are not shared with third-parties or other Meta companies – including Facebook – for advertising purposes. The dialogue was coordinated by the Swedish Consumer Agency and the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and facilitated by the Commission,” it added.

While it is good to see regulatory powers taking big tech firms to task, it remains to be seen what will happen in other regions that WhatsApp, and indeed Meta operates, especially as this compliance looks limited to the EU region alone.

The fact that EU user data will be not be shared with third-parties or other Meta-owned companies, including Facebook, is welcome those in that part of the world, but for users in countries that fall outside that remit, like South Africa, it is concerning to say the least.

[Image – Photo by Dima Solomin on Unsplash]


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