The controversy over WhatsApp’s new terms of service continues. A year later, the European Commission still hasn’t finished with the instant messaging application. In a letter addressed to the app, the EU requests clarification on the use of personal data collected by WhatsApp.
The application had driven the point home, stating that users were forced to accept this new policy before a deadline or risk losing access to the app. Finally, WhatsApp was forced to reconsider its position in the face of the outcry of many European regulators. According to them, this new policy represented a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation.
WhatsApp needs to better present its policy changes
Indeed, European consumer law requires that users are informed of the implications of these updates and can choose freely if they still want to use the application. “WhatsApp must ensure that users understand what they are agreeing to and how their personal data is used for marketing purposes,” assured Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice within the Commission.
In the eyes of Brussels, WhatsApp’s efforts in this area are still insufficientand the way changes are presented and announced is still “a source of confusion for users”. In fact, WhatsApp was asked to answer the following questions:
- How WhatsApp makes sure consumers can understand the consequences of accepting terms of service
- How WhatsApp uses consumers’ personal data for marketing purposes and whether consumers understand that WhatsApp shares such data with other Facebook/Meta companies or third parties
- How WhatsApp ensures consumers can reject new terms of service, especially as persistent in-app notifications prompt consumers to accept respective changes
- What action WhatsApp intends to take regarding consumers who have already agreed to the terms of service in the mistaken belief that it was necessary in order to continue using the app
We look forward to discovering WhatsApp’s answers to these multiple questions.