Last January, WhatsApp announced that it would share some data with, among others, Facebook, owner of the messaging service. According to the parent company, this would allow users to communicate with companies and the privacy change would not affect personal conversations. The planned update led to much criticism internationally and large groups of people switched to alternative chat apps such as Telegram and Signal. Under pressure from this, WhatsApp already partially adapted the planned change.
According to the BEUC, WhatsApp’s pressure on users to agree to the new policy violates the European Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices: “The content of these notifications, their nature, timing and frequency place undue pressure on users and threaten freedom of choice”. In addition, WhatsApp is unable to express the intended changes “in clear and understandable language”, which would be contrary to EU consumer law.
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The Dutch Consumers’ Association has joined the complaint. Director Sandra Molenaar states that WhatsApp threatens to refuse people access to the app if they do not agree to unclear conditions:
The consumer associations of the Netherlands, Romania, the Czech Republic, Norway, Greece, Slovakia and France joined BEUC’s complaint offensive.