EU directs WhatsApp to inform consumers about use of personal data

London: The European Commission on Thursday told Meta-owned WhatsApp that it has to inform consumers about the use of their personal data in a much better and transparent way.

In a letter to WhatsApp, the European Commission and the network of national consumer authorities (CPC) asked the company to clarify the changes it made in 2021 to its terms of service and privacy policy and ensure their compliance with EU consumer protection law.

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

WhatsApp has been given time until the end of February to come back to the commission with concrete commitments on how they will address its concerns.

A formal complaint against WhatsApp’s updated terms and conditions was filed by several EU-based consumer protection organisations in July last year.

Following an alert from the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), the Commission and national consumer authorities, under the lead of the Swedish Consumer Agency, are requesting WhatsApp to explain how it complies with its obligations under EU consumer protection law.

The questions concern whether sufficiently clear information is given to consumers on the consequences of their decision to accept or decline the company’s new terms of servic and the fairness of WhatsApp’s in-app notifications prompting consumers to accept the new terms and privacy policy.

Other concern is whether consumers have an adequate opportunity to become acquainted with the new terms before accepting them.

“The Commission and consumer authorities are also concerned about the exchange of users’ personal data between WhatsApp and third parties or other Facebook/Meta companies”.

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