Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

8 June 2022

The EU Commission and consumer protection authorities urge WhatsApp to keep consumers better informed about its data policies and updates to its terms of service

Today, the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network and the European Commission sent an additional letter to WhatsApp urging the company to take action to address outstanding concerns over its updates to its terms of service and its privacy policy and to clearly inform consumers of their business model.

In particular, WhatsApp is encouraged to show how it plans to communicate any future updates to its terms of service, and to do so in a way that consumers can easily understand the implications of such updates and freely decide they want to continue using WhatsApp after these updates. The company is also asked to clarify whether it derives revenue from commercial policies relating to user data.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said:

“WhatsApp must ensure that users understand what they are agreeing to and how their personal data is used for commercial purposes, in particular to offer services to commercial partners. . I repeat that I expect WhatsApp to fully respect EU rules which protect consumers and their fundamental rights”.

A first letter was sent in January 2022, as several updates to the terms of service made in 2021 were problematic for consumers. In response, WhatsApp has demonstrated that it provides users with the necessary information about these updates, including through in-app notifications, or its help center.

However, the information is provided by WhatsApp in an insistent manner and is deemed insufficient and confusing to users. WhatsApp now has one month to demonstrate to consumer protection authorities that its practices comply with EU consumer law. More information on how the Commission works with consumer authorities to investigate and tackle breaches of EU consumer law can be found here.

The Commission has recently published a report presenting an overview of the past actions of this network, which includes a forward-looking examination of market trends affecting consumer rights and on which the CPC network will focus its activities over the next two years.