You can opt out of WhatsApp’s usage agreement, but there will be problems
WhatsApp has finally bowed to pressure from the European Union and will allow you to opt out of some of its terms of service. However, be aware that this may mean that you may not be able to access some features.
WhatsApp’s controversial decision
Let’s go back to the beginning of 2021, when the creators of the popular messenger decided to implement a controversial policy. Well, users had to accept new provisions in the terms of service, which included, among others, sharing certain data with Facebook. Refusal of consent effectively meant the impossibility of using the application. For many users, this was clearly an invasion of privacy, which in turn encouraged them to switch the messenger to competing products.
Of course, the changes introduced led to tainted opinion as well as an outflow of users. We also had clear confirmation that WhatsApp is really close to Facebook and the two products should not be treated as almost separate entities.
WhatsApp bends under pressure from the European Union
In the whole case, the European Union decided to intervene, which set itself the goal of protecting the personal data of WhatsApp users, as well as forcing the company to adapt to European legislation. The effect of the action taken has just been announced, and I dare say it must satisfy many people.
According to the published information, after dialogue with EU consumer protection authorities and the European Commission, WhatsApp is committed to greater transparency regarding changes to the terms of service. Additional the company will make it easier for users to opt out of updates to the termsif they do not agree with them and will clearly explain when the rejection will result in the user no longer being able to use the messenger. WhatsApp has also confirmed that users’ personal information will not be shared with third parties or other Meta companies – including Facebook – for advertising purposes.
I’m glad that WhatsApp is committed to changing its practices and complying with EU rules. It is our commitment to inform users of any contract changes and to respect their decision, namely not to ask the same question every time they open the app. Users have the right to know what they are agreeing to and what their choices mean exactly. In this way, they can decide for themselves whether they want to continue using the platform.
Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice
In the event of a future policy update, the developers of the messenger have committed to:
- explains what changes will be made to contracts concluded with consumers and how these may affect their rights,
- include the option to decline the updated terms of service, which will be given the same prominence as the option to accept the terms,
- make sure you can decline update notifications or delay user review of changes made and respect users’ decisions and not send them multiple notifications.
The Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) announced that it will actively monitor WhatsApp’s compliance with its commitments in all future policy updates. However, if necessary, it will enforce compliance, including by imposing financial sanctions.