WhatsApp makes it easy to opt out of updates to its terms of service

WhatsApp reached an agreement with the European Union after the controversy over the change of privacy policy in early 2021. After discussions with the European Commission and EU consumer protection regulators, WhatsApp will make it easier for users to reject updates to terms of service. The brand owned by Meta will also “clearly explain” if the rejection of the terms will limit the use of the services, the Commission said. People can also dismiss notifications about these updates, and delay reviewing updates.

The company further confirmed that it does not share personal data with other Meta brands, including Facebook, for advertising. It will also not share the data with third parties, the Commission said.

WhatsApp caused an uproar at the start of 2021 when it asked users to share data such as connection information and transactions with sister brands like Facebook as part of a new privacy policy. While little has changed for users, some have interpreted it as a sign that WhatsApp is sharing messages and calls with Facebook. That prompted a mass exodus to competing secure messaging services like Signal and Telegram. WhatsApp tried to reassure users that it could not access end-to-end encrypted conversations, but the backlash led the company to halt the rollout of the policy. When it returned the new terms, it added clarifications but warned that the service would gradually stop working unless users agreed to the terms.

The European Commission got involved in January last year, when it responded to allegations of unfair practice by asking WhatsApp to better explain how it uses people’s data. In June, it also asked WhatsApp to more clearly explain its business model and whether or not it monetizes personal data.

We are asking for comments on Meta. The Commission’s Consumer Protection Cooperation Network plans to “actively monitor” the WhatsApp application of these promises with future policy updates. Any violations may trigger fines and other penalties. The chat giant isn’t the only one facing scrutiny. The Commission said it continues to look for “dark patterns,” or attempts to unfairly push users to accept subscriptions, policy changes or other unwanted features. Don’t be surprised if there are more deals like WhatsApp in the near future.

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