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WhatsApp gets EU ultimatum after new terms spark backlash

WhatsApp gets EU ultimatum after new terms spark backlash

27.01.2022 From our online archive
Popular messaging app still hasn't clearly explained how user data it will retain, or sell, will be protected as EU requires
Photo credit: LT archives

Meta Platforms Inc.’s WhatsApp was given a month to answer European Union concerns over new terms and services that sparked outrage among consumers and privacy campaigners.

WhatsApp must provide “concrete commitments” to address EU concerns about a possible lack of “sufficiently clear information” to users, or the exchange of user data between WhatsApp and third parties, the European Commission said Thursday. 

“WhatsApp must ensure that users understand what they agree to and how their personal data is used,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said in a statement. “I expect from WhatsApp to fully comply with EU rules that protect consumers and their privacy.”

WhatsApp announced the policy changes a year ago, but was forced to delay their introduction until May after a backlash over what data the messaging service collects and how it shares that information with parent Facebook. European consumer association BEUC complained to the EU, saying the new terms and services were opaque.

“WhatsApp bombarded users for months with persistent pop-up messages,” BEUC said in reaction to the commission announcement. “WhatsApp has been deliberately vague about this, laying the ground for far-reaching data processing without valid consent from consumers.”

WhatsApp said in a statement that the company is looking forward to “explaining” to the commission “how we protect our users’ privacy in compliance with our obligations under EU law.”

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