The European Commission puts pressure on WhatsApp. The messaging application, owned by Meta (Facebook) is in the crosshairs of Brussels, due to a lack of transparency regarding the use made of the personal data of its users.

Have you ever wondered what WhatsApp does with your personal data? If you use Meta Mail regularly, you put your messages in his virtual hands. This can be used in different ways, starting with targeted advertising. And normally, you know it, since you have accepted the terms of service. However, it is possible that everything is not very clear to you: this is normal.

In May 2021, WhatsApp has updated its terms of service with the aim of becoming a more commercial tool for Meta, and therefore, more profitable, through the sharing of personal data between the two platforms. Concretely, by sharing information on WhatsApp, Meta recovers it and can notably resell it. It is possible to refuse these conditions, but in doing so, the messaging system finds itself emptied of its substance. But that’s not even the heart of the problem: the main concern is that WhatsApp casts doubt on how the data collected is used. And that does not please the competent authorities very much.

When Europe gets involved

From the summer of 2021, consumers have stood up to this situation and complaints have been filed., in particular with the European Bureau of Consumers’ Unions (BUEC), based in Brussels. But WhatsApp did not react, which forced the European Commission, through the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) to step in: in January 2022, she sent a letter to the platform, asking it to clarify various points in connection with its terms of use and privacy policy. These points, detailed by the EU, are as follows:

  • How does WhatsApp ensure that consumers can understand the consequences of accepting updated terms of use?
  • How WhatsApp uses consumers’ personal data for marketing purposesand how does the app explain to consumers how it shares this data with other Facebook/Meta companies or third parties?
  • How does WhatsApp ensure consumers can reject the new terms of useknowing that persistent in-app notifications prompt consumers to accept the respective changes?
  • What are the measures that WhatsApp intends to take regarding consumers who have already agreed to the Update Terms of Serviceon the false presumption that it was necessary to be able to continue using the application?

In sum, the problem is not that WhatsApp uses the data of its users. The problem is that his way of proceeding does not comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) : the platform must provide clear and precise information to allow the user to know, concretely, what he undertakes by accepting the conditions imposed by WhatsApp. “WhatsApp must ensure that users understand what they are agreeing to and how their personal data is used for marketing purposes”explains simply Didier Reynders, commissioner responsible for justice within the European Commission.

An unsatisfactory response from WhatsApp

The European Commission stresses today that if WhatsApp responded to this request in March 2022, the return made was not satisfactory. “After carefully evaluating WhatsApp’s submission, the CPC Network was not persuaded by the company’s clarifications of the concerns raised”Explain
the press release published on June 9.

The company now has until July to provide new answers, capable of satisfying Brussels. For now, we don’t know what could happen if WhatsApp decides not to cooperate: we’ll have to wait until the end of this ultimatum to find out.

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