WhatsApp commits to more transparency on policy changes

6 Mar 2023

Image: © Denys Prykhodov/Stock.adobe.com

Following talks with EU consumer protection authorities, WhatsApp says it will be more transparent on changes to its terms of service.

WhatsApp will make it easier for users to reject updates to its policies when they disagree with them, the EU said in a statement today (6 March).

The Meta-owned messaging app has been under regulatory scrutiny since it updated its privacy policy last year in a manner that was criticised by some as unfair and not transparent enough.

According to the European Commission, WhatsApp has committed to being more transparent on changes to its terms of service following a dialogue with EU consumer protection authorities.

Apart from allowing users to reject privacy policy updates, the company will also “clearly explain” when such rejection leads the user to no longer be able to use WhatsApp’s services.

WhatsApp added that personal user data is not shared with third parties or any other Meta company, including Facebook, for advertising purposes.

“I welcome WhatsApp’s commitments to changing its practices to comply with EU rules, actively informing users of any changes to their contract, and respecting their choices instead of asking them each time they open the app,” said EU commissioner for justice Didier Reynders.

“Consumers have a right to understand what they agree to and what that choice entails concretely, so that they can decide whether they want to continue using the platform.”

The move is part of the broader Digital Services Act passed last year which demands that tech companies take control of content moderation and places a closer eye on their activities.

A Consumer Protection Cooperation Network will now “actively monitor how WhatsApp implements these commitments” when making any future updates to its policies. Where necessary, it will enforce compliance – including by the possibility of imposing fines.

In January, WhatsApp was fined €5.5m by the Irish Data Protection Commission for data privacy breaches. The investigation was spurred by a German individual who took issue with the way users were being asked to accept its terms of service.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic