WhatsApp’s new policies: Here’s the situation for European users

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You use WhatsApp as messenger service on your smartphone? Then things will change for you starting in February. WhatsApp is changing its privacy policy. Find out why you may no longer be able to use the messenger and why Europe is an exception here.

Anyone who opened WhatsApp in the past few days was surprised by a pop-up message that filled the entire screen. It has been known for quite some time that the Messenger service is renewing its privacy policy, and in the same breath, the terms of use. This is exactly what the window that wants to inform about the new conditions contains. However, the situation is supposed to be different for European users.

THIS IS WHY YOU CAN SOMETIMES NO LONGER USE WHATSAPP

Specifically, the new provision comes into force from February 8, and its innovations are quite something. It is often the case that users automatically agree to these if they continue to use the corresponding services. In the case of WhatsApp, however, the changes are now so far-reaching that users are actively asked for consent.

Currently, you can simply click away from the message. In a month, however, you should have decided how to continue using the service. If you agree, you can continue to use WhatsApp as usual. However, if you reject the guidelines and privacy policy, the service will not allow you to use WhatsApp in the future.

If you are thinking about switching to alternative messenger services anyway, now is the opportunity to delete your WhatsApp account. Otherwise, the Zuckerberg empire will now force you to actively deal with your usage behavior and the issue of data protection.

THESE ARE THE NEW PRIVACY TERMS

Many users will confirm the provisions unread. But it’s worth taking a look at the new rules, because a lot is changing. First and foremost is the communication between WhatsApp and Facebook, which will be permitted from February. Rumors that the parent company Facebook wants to link Messenger with the social media platform have been around since the takeover. That’s now a reality, because by agreeing to privacy policies, Facebook and WhatsApp will share your data – from more than two billion users worldwide, to be exact. And you don’t have to be registered with Facebook for Zuckerberg and Co. to take advantage of your data.

Until now, Facebook has allowed you to choose whether your WhatsApp information can be shared with the social network. The field will be dropped as of February 8. WhatsApp says it will soon share data such as phone numbers, transaction data, IP addresses or “information about how you interact with others (including other companies).” This is sensitive data, and sharing it with Facebook may well raise privacy concerns. It is true that they emphasize that the analysis of the tapped data serves to combat spam, abuse and the like. However, it is an open secret that it is also used to personalize Facebook products and more.

In addition, WhatsApp wants to inform about innovations in the Messenger itself via push message in the future. So you won’t just receive messages from your contacts anymore, but additionally from the service itself. The competitor Telegram is already doing something similar, communicating changes in its own chat.

DUBIOUS SECURITY

It is unclear how Facebook implements communication with the purchased services and, above all, how this affects security on WhatsApp. The messages and texts you exchange with your contacts are end-to-end encrypted. So WhatsApp has no access to the content. However, if Facebook wants to analyze information of the interaction with others from February, WhatsApp would have to be able to read pictures, texts or voice messages.

This is also accompanied by advertising, which according to the rumor mill has been supposed to make its way into the Messenger service for years. Whether the new guidelines pave the way for advertisements remains to be seen. It is conceivable, however, that through the links – also through cookies – Facebook or WhatsApp, respectively, could show contextual advertising or “recommendations” in the future – for example, if you have visited a certain website or made an online purchase.

ALL-CLEAR FOR EUROPEAN USERS?

Keyword: DSGVO. According to Facebook, the new rules will not apply to European users. This is not only prohibited by the General Data Protection Regulation. The exchange between the services had already been prevented by the EU Commission when WhatsApp was purchased. Niamh Sweeney, Director of Policy at WhatsApp in Europe, wrote on Twitter that the company intends to adhere to this. Thus, nothing should change for European WhatsApp users. This information is not visible to users at first glance in the pop-up window that opens in WhatsApp.

The situation is different in the USA and outside the EU, where Facebook can link its services. However, the US antitrust agency FTC is currently suing Facebook. The goal is to break up Facebook and the acquired services WhatsApp and Instagram.

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