WhatsApp to Ban People Under 16 From Using Service in EU

How Europe's New Privacy Rules Favor Google and Facebook
New EU Privacy Rules to Aid Google, Facebook: WSJ

27 April, 2018

The Facebook-owned messaging service that has more than 1.5 billion users will ask people in the 28 European Union states to confirm they are 16 or older as part of a prompt to accept a new terms of service and an updated privacy policy in the next few weeks.

These changes are all taking place because a new set of European privacy laws called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be coming into force on 25 May 2018.

Those within the ages of 13 to 15 still using the app will need to get a parent of guardian of age to sign off on information sharing on the service.

Facebook users in the United States are scheduled in coming weeks to see a series of new consent screens explaining how the company collects and uses personal data and asking permission for these uses.

GDPR aims to give people more control over how companies use their information and the right to have their data erased. It also gives the right to delete such data, if necessary.

The company says it plans to keep the over-13 age restriction in the rest of the world.

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At the moment, Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Musical.ly are sticking with their minimum age limit of 13. It's unclear how Facebook plans to do this seeing as it claims that user messages are encrypted, there's not really any other information they could glean to make ads more appropriate for users.

There's much more to be learned about how personal information on Facebook was mined and later purchased and used by a consultant who also did work for Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016.

If they don't do this, they won't see a fully personalized version of the site.

There are also rules created to protect children from having their data collected. "Most importantly, you should have meaningful control over both". It's not clear how - or, indeed, if - WhatsApp will verify, or attempt to verify, that this is correct.

While the laws are only in the EU, Twitter says that the privacy settings and privacy policy update applies worldwide. Companies then would have to live up to other requirements such as data portability (Facebook, for example, only allows you to download your contacts in text format, so you can't really move your online friendships to another service).

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