Many users have until February 8 to accept the new rules – or else lose access to the app
UPDATE (January 18th, 2021): WhatsApp announced that it would postpone the rollout of the new data-sharing practices.
The notice is being shared via an in-app notification that maps the key updates to WhatsApp’s policies and terms of service. Those are divided into three key points – how the app processes user data, how businesses can use Facebook-hosted services with WhatsApp, and how the app partners with Facebook to offer integration across Facebook’s products.
Note, however, that users in Europe will be exempt from the service’s new data-sharing practices and are only shown the first two of the three points in the notice. WhatsApp’s director of policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Niamh Sweeney attempted to clear up some confusion that had arisen around the issue:
3/5 There are no changes to WhatsApp's data-sharing practices in the Europe arising from this update. It remains the case that WhatsApp does not share European Region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or ads.
— Niamh Sweeney (@NiamhSweeneyNYC) January 7, 2021
How about the rest of the world, though? Here’s an important part of the platform’s updated ToS as they will apply to the users in other parts of the world:
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At this point it is important to remember some of the key information that WhatsApp collects:
- Your phone number that you used to create an account
- Your profile picture and profile information
- The phone numbers of your WhatsApp contacts
- Transaction and payments data
- Location information
- Information about your device such as the model, operating system, and mobile network
- Other information, including your IP address, device operations information, and identifiers
By agreeing with new terms and policy you will be effectively agreeing to Facebook and its subsidiaries having access to at least some of your data. Importantly, however, given WhatsApp’s use of end-to-end encryption, any messages, photos and other content can still only be viewed by the sender and recipient.