WhatsApp and Instagram announce new changes ahead of GDPR

25 Apr 2018

WhatsApp on mobile. Image: Worawee Meepian/Shutterstock 

Major tech companies are rolling out tools for GDPR compliance.

25 May will see GDPR officially come into force and companies are quickly publicising tools and changes being created in order to achieve compliance.

WhatsApp and Instagram, both owned by Facebook, are among the tech firms unveiling new features prior to the fast-approaching deadline.

Age changes for WhatsApp

According to Reuters, WhatsApp is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in the EU. It will ask users in the bloc to confirm they are at least 16 years of age when they are prompted to agree to new terms of service and a privacy policy, which will be provided by a new WhatsApp Ireland entity in the next number of weeks. The Irish entity is being set up in order to operate within the EU.

It is not yet clear how the age limit will be checked given the data collection limitations within WhatsApp itself. Parent company Facebook will be asking teens between 13 and 15 to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform. If this is not done, users will not see the fully personalised version of Facebook.

WhatsApp is also allowing users to download a report containing details on the data it holds on them, which will be rolling out to all users, not just those under the governance of GDPR.

Data dossiers are now accessible

Instagram has announced it is rolling out the same ability for users to download their data if they want to leave the network. This can be accessed under ‘Data Download’ in the app’s privacy settings.

A spokesperson confirmed the news to TechCrunch: “The Data Download tool is currently accessible to everyone on the web, but access via iOS and Android is still rolling out.”

The data download feature is part of an effort to comply with the data portability rule within GDPR. You can request to download all your data from the platform, and Instagram will send you an email with a download link once it has managed to gather everything in one place. The process can supposedly take up to 48 hours.

WhatsApp on mobile. Image: Worawee Meepian/Shutterstock 

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