WhatsApp is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe to help it comply with new data privacy rules coming into force next month.
The service will ask European users to confirm they are at least 16 years old when they are prompted to agree to the new terms of service.
It is not clear how or if the age limit will be checked given the limited data requested and held by the service.
WhatsApp is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe to help it comply with new data privacy rules coming into force next month. WhatsApp’s minimum age of use will remain 13 years in the rest of the world, in line with its parent company, Facebook
The move comes ahead of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May.
GDPR will give Europeans more control over how companies use their information.
The regulation includes rules to protect children from having their personal data collected for marketing purposes, or to create user profiles.
Parent company Facebook, which has a separate data policy, is taking a different approach to teens aged between 13 and 15 in order to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law.
It is asking them to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform, otherwise they will not see a fully personalised version of the social media platform.
But WhatsApp, which had more than 1.5 billion users in January according to Facebook, said in a blog post it was not asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement it has created for the European Union.
‘Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you,’ it said.
WHAT IS THE EU’S GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION?
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new data protection law that will enter into force on May 25, 2018.
It aims to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).
This means cracking down on how companies like Google and Facebook use and sell the data they collect on their users.
The law will mark the biggest overhaul of personal data privacy rules since the birth of the internet.
Under GDPR, companies will be required to report data breaches within 72 hours, as well as to allow customers to export their data and delete it.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new data protection law that will enter into force on May 25. It aims to crack down on how companies like Google and Facebook use and sell the data they collect on their users
Part of the expanded rights of data subjects outlined by the GDPR is the right for data subjects to obtain from the data controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose.
Further, the controller must provide a copy of the personal data, free of charge, in an electronic format. This change is a dramatic shift to data transparency and empowerment of data subjects.
Under the right to be forgotten, also known as Data Erasure, are entitled to have the data controller erase their personal data, cease further dissemination of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data.
The conditions for erasure include the data no longer being relevant to original purposes for processing, or a data subject withdrawing their consent.
This right requires controllers to compare the subjects’ rights to ‘the public interest in the availability of the data’ when considering such requests.
WhatsApp, founded in 2009, has come under pressure from some European governments in recent years because of its end-to-end encrypted messaging system and its plan to share more data with its parent, Facebook.
Facebook itself is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world since disclosing last month that the personal information of millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, setting off wider concerns about how it handles user data.
WhatsApp’s minimum age of use will remain 13 years in the rest of the world, in line with its parent.
Apple and some other tech firms have said they plan to give people in the United States and elsewhere the same protections and rights that Europeans will gain.
European regulators have already disrupted a move by WhatsApp to change its policies to allow it to share users’ phone numbers and other information with Facebook to help improve the product and more effectively target ads.
The new rules will protect children from having their personal data collected for marketing purposes. WhatsApp said in a blog post it was not asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement it has created for the European Union (stock image)
HOW CAN USERS DOWNLOAD THEIR WHATSAPP REPORT?
After updating its privacy settings in line with the upcoming implementation of the GDPR, WhatsApp is also adding a feature to increase transparency for its users.
Called ‘Request Account Info’, this feature will enable WhatsApp users to download their account information.
It is due to be rolled out to all users via the latest update in a matter of weeks and will allow people to access all the data that WhatsApp has on them.
This information is stored on WhatsApp’s servers and includes information such as profile photos and even names of group chats.
Other information will include the make and model of the device they used, their contacts and any blocked numbers.
It is important to note that the report will not contain any messages, although that option is also available through a separate feature.
How to request a report
- Go to WhatsApp Settings
- Select the Account option
- Press the new option that says ‘request account info’
- Tap Request report
- The screen will update to Request sent
WhatsApp claims the report will be available approximately 3 days after the date requested.
Once the report has been created and is ready, users will be able to download it.
How to download the report
- Go to WhatsApp Settings
- Click on Account
- Select the ‘request account info’ button
- Download report.
A ZIP file will then be downloaded to the device and will include an HTML file.
Once successfully downloaded, WhatsApp users will be able to export their report.
WhatsApp suspended the change in Europe after widespread regulatory scrutiny.
It said on Tuesday it still wanted to share the data at some point.
‘As we have said in the past, we want to work closer with other Facebook companies in the future and we will keep you updated as we develop our plans,’ it said.
Other changes announced by WhatsApp on Tuesday include allowing users to download a report detailing the data it holds on them, such as the make and model of the device they used, their contacts and groups and any blocked numbers.
WhatsApp claim this feature will be available ‘in the coming weeks’ in an upcoming update.
‘This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,’ it said.
This report will reveal all information that WhatsApp has stored on its servers and it will be available in three days after in is requested, WhatsApp claims.
The report will be available for a few weeks before it is wiped from the central server.
The blog post also points to safety tips on the service, such as the ability to block unwanted users, and delete and report spam.
It explains that when it receives reports of spam or abusive content, the messaging app collaborates with Facebook to implement a ban on both platforms.
Two-step authentication and privacy settings are some of the options the service suggests customers should use to stay safe when using the app.
WHAT CHANGES IS FACEBOOK MAKING TO COMPLY WITH THE EU’S GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION?
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enter into force on May 25, 2018 and offer greater privacy protection online.
New terms of service at Facebook are designed to ensure the Menlo Park, California, firm complies with the forthcoming EU rules, with European residents seeing the measures first.
Facebook is hoping to exclude 1.5 billion of its worldwide users from the new GDPR laws, arguing that only EU citizens should fall under its purview.
Almost 1.9 billion non-EU international users, outside of the US and Canada, would be protected by the stricter law under current rules.
Members in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America would be excluded from the GDPR’s protections if the move goes ahead.
Under the new policy, Facebook users will be asked to review and make choices about ads they receive, including whether they want Facebook to use data from third parties.
Facebook will begin to ask users if they want to opt in or out of its facial recognition feature, which is making a return under GDPR.
They will also be asked to review and choose what to share about sensitive personal data. This will include their political and religious beliefs, as well as relationship status information on their profiles.
Facebook is also taking steps to comply with rules that limit advertising and public viewing of data for teens.
This will mean no use of facial recognition for anyone under age 18 and limitations on who can see certain information teens have shared.
To comply with GDPR, Facebook will also limit what it shows to users between the ages of 13 and 15 unless they get permission from a parent.