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WhatsApp now makes it easier to reject new policies

Technology News

WhatsApp now makes it easier to reject new policies

WhatsApp has reached an agreement with the European Union (EU) on how it will communicate with users regarding future updates to its terms of service.

In a statement on Monday, 6 March 2023, the EU said the Meta Platforms-owned chat app had committed to being more transparent on policy adjustments in the future.

As part of this, WhatsApp’s future policy changes will feature the following elements:

Explain what changes it intends to make to the users’ contracts and how they could affect their rights.
Include the possibility to reject updated terms of service as prominently as the possibility to accept them, and explain the impact on features if they reject the policy.
Ensure that the notifications informing users about the updates can be dismissed or the review of the updates can be delayed, as well as respect users’ choices and refrain from sending recurring notifications.
EU commissioner for justice Didier Reynders said consumers had a right to understand what they agreed to and what that choice entailed concretely, to help them decide if they wanted to continue using a platform.

“I welcome WhatsApp’s commitments to changing its practices to comply with EU rules, actively informing users of any changes to their contract, and respecting their choices instead of asking them each time they open the app,” said Reynders.

The Consumer Protection Cooperation Network will now monitor WhatsApp to see if it abides by its commitments and consider imposing fines if it does not.

Controversial policy change sparks backlash
The EU’s consumer protection authorities had engaged with WhatsApp following its much-bemoaned but often-misunderstood 2021 policy change.

Early in the year, WhatsApp started prompting users to accept a new privacy policy allowing it to share data like a user’s contact info and transactions with WhatsApp Business accounts to sibling brands like Facebook and Instagram.

Many mistakenly interpreted the change to mean that WhatsApp would share the contents of their messages with these entities, sparking a backlash against the platform that led to rivals like Telegram and Signal gaining millions of users within days.

Despite WhatsApp’s reassurance that messages remained end-to-end encrypted, it was forced to delay the policy’s implementation by several months.

The final new terms of service included more details on the exact effects of the policy but also informed users that WhatsApp features would gradually stop working unless they accepted the policy.

WhatsApp ultimately walked this back too. The service continues to work for people who have refused to accept the new privacy policy, and they are frequently prompted to accept the new terms of service.

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