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WhatsApp raises minimum age to 16 years ahead of GDPR

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New Delhi | Updated: April 27, 2018 11:24:23 AM

EU is now chalking out the final steps to implement the General Data Protection Rules in the countries in Europe. GDPR is a new framework for data protection of the users in Europe.

WhatsApp is also allowing the users to download all their information from the WhatsApp servers. (Source: Reuters)

WhatsApp is changing its Terms of Service (ToS) and Privacy Policy to give users more control over their personal information. Ahead of the official implementation of General Data Protection Rules or GDPR in the European Union on May 25, all the tech companies including WhatsApp are buckling up their usage terms to avoid any issue with the regulators and appease the users after the Facebook data scandal. WhatsApp has published the new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy clauses on its website, wherein it claims that no new rights for collecting users’ information have been vested.

The biggest data privacy law that’s happening in the countries part of the European Union will see the Facebook-owned company WhatsApp implement new regulations for the users as the minimum age to use the service has been revised to 16 years from the 13 years age previously. WhatsApp has iterated that it is not asking for additional rights in its new terms that will be effective soon in the EU. It is worth mentioning that WhatsApp updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy to begin sharing the user information with its parent company in 2016. The company was lambasted by many users, as well as regulators including India that denied WhatsApp to go forth with this policy.

WhatsApp is also allowing the users to download all their information from the WhatsApp servers through a feature called ‘Request Account Info’. WhatsApp will roll out this feature for everyone in and outside the European Union where the GDPR legislation applies to. “This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,” says WhatsApp in a blog post.

The ‘Request Account Info’ will contain an archive of all the chats – deleted and continuing – as well as the account information and settings data. The option will be available to the users under the Account in the Settings page. After a user places a request for his/her account info, it may take up to three days for the archive to be ready for the download. The request cannot be cancelled thereafter. However, if the user chooses to delete the WhatsApp account or changes the registered number, WhatsApp will automatically cancel the request.

The account information file will be available as a ZIP file to the users, which they will be notified of. The file can be found in the same ‘Request Account Info’ setting page by tapping on Export Report. This file can be viewed in an external document opener and can be deleted, as well.

European Union has already barred WhatsApp from sharing any user information with Facebook. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, has been extremely unconvinced with the pattern of trade the tech companies have employed in years in Europe. WhatsApp was ordered to update its policies in Europe to adjust the new mandate of stopping the transfer of users’ information to the parent company Facebook.

EU is now chalking out the final steps to implement the General Data Protection Rules in the countries in Europe. GDPR is a new framework for data protection of the users in Europe. It replaces the data protection directive of 1995 that has become nearly obsolete. According to the EU’s GDPR website, the new legislation is “designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

The companies operating in the European Union and outside it will have to comply with the GDPR laws as long as their services are availed by the citizens in the EU. GDPR will offer more transparency to the users over the service offered by tech companies that require personal information from the users. It will be implemented on May 25 in all the countries of the European Union.

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