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European Complaint Against New WhatsApp Terms of Use

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The European consumer organization BEUC has filed a complaint with the European Commission against the terms of use of WhatsApp. That chat app recently introduced new, controversial privacy rules.

 

WhatsApp introduced new privacy rules for users outside the European Union on May 15. These are controversial because whoever accepts the new terms of use permits to share WhatsApp metadata with Facebook, the parent company of the messaging service. It is not about the content of the messages but about information such as who you are talking to or which device you are using. That can be interesting for advertisers. Anyone who does not accept the new terms and conditions will no longer be able to use WhatsApp after a while.

Although the European GDPR rules in principle protect European consumers against such practices, concerns have also arisen in the EU about the new regulations. The European Bureau of Consumers’ Associations (BEUC) calls them ‘neither transparent nor understandable to users’. The BEUC groups 46 consumer organizations from 32 European countries, including Test Aankoop for Belgium.

Together with eight partner organizations, the European consumer organization is now approaching the European Commission and the Network of European Consumer Centres. They accuse WhatsApp of multiple violations of European consumer law.

“Users can’t get a clear idea of the consequences of the amended rules on the protection of their private life, in particular concerning the transfer of personal data to Facebook and third parties,” it said in a press release. “WhatsApp has been deliberately vague, exposing consumers to widespread use of their data without their clear consent. We are asking the authorities to take swift action against WhatsApp to ensure consumer rights are respected.”

Several European countries, including Germany, have already temporarily banned Facebook from using WhatsApp data. It is now up to the European Commission to determine whether an investigation into the new WhatsApp terms of use is necessary.

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