WhatsApp’s controversial new terms of service come into effect

Photo: Financial Express

Originally set for today, the deadline for WhatsApp to begin enforcing its updated terms of service has been extended.

Once implemented, the new user agreement will alter the communication app’s privacy policy. WhatsApp Business—owned by Facebook—will be permitted to share user-limited information across other Facebook products. WhatsApp representatives have stated that refusal of the conditions will ultimately precipitate account deletion.

Facebook has faced criticism that its new terms violate user privacy and conditions agreed to upon its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp. In 2017, the European Commission fined Facebook $122 million for “misleading” disclosures regarding the company’s ability to link WhatsApp and Facebook accounts. Following the announcement of the 2021 changes, German regulators temporarily banned Facebook from collecting user data and are requesting an EU-wide decision on the terms through the European Data Protection Board.

Given existing EU laws on data privacy, the bloc is unlikely to allow WhatsApp to compel Europeans to accept the proposed terms. Expect EU regulators to order WhatsApp to halt user data collection. Current backlash is unlikely to change WhatsApp’s calculations in the medium-term, however, as its monetization efforts have thus far prioritized expansion into countries lacking muscular data protection laws, such as India and Brazil.

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