Snapchat to change data retention policy for under-16s ahead of GDPR

27 Apr 2018

Snapchat app on mobile. Image: Mateusz_Szymanski/ Shutterstock

Snapchat is changing its policy prior to GDPR to retain its crucial young user base.

While GDPR is theoretically good news for the data privacy and agency of individuals in the EU, those who invest in major tech companies may be spooked by the changes in store.

WhatsApp has decided to cut off under-16s from its services altogether, but it looks like Snapchat – another app with a youthful user base – is taking a different approach to comply with the regulations.

Future Human

Snapchat will retain less data about younger users

Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, is instead going to cease retaining certain data about its users under 16 within the EU, including precise location history seen in its Snap Map feature. This means millions of younger teenagers will not be cut off from the app.

Under GDPR, processing personal information of children under the age of 16 will be banned unless parents or guardians give consent. Different EU countries will be able to determine their own age limit for consent on managing data of users aged between 13 and 16 years of age.

A Snap representative told the Financial Times that anyone in the EU over the age of 13 would still be able to sign up for and use Snapchat post-GDPR. The company will no longer process contentious data in order to retain users and achieve compliance at the same time.

Snap Map is a particularly controversial feature and a warning was issued by a number of schools in 2017 when it was launched. Serious safety concerns were raised about the app due to its tracking abilities.

GDPR compliance means minimising data collection

In a statement, the company wrote: “To the extent Snap relies on consent to process personal data of users between 13 and 16, we will make the reasonable efforts required to confirm that consent has been given by someone who holds parental responsibility, while respecting the need to minimise further data collection.”

According to TechCrunch, Snap will still allow under-16s to use Snap Map and geofilters, but its approach to GDPR compliance is more centred around not storing location details of under-16s, and boosting consent and controls for individual users.

Snapchat app on mobile. Image: Mateusz_Szymanski/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects