WhatsApp has updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

WhatsApp has updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. WhatsApp had previously said that it collects very little data and every message is end-to-end encrypted.

WhatsApp has updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy ahead of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect in Europe on May 25. Soon, the messaging service will let users download the data it collects.

WhatsApp has clarified that it is not asking for new rights to collect personal information with the update.

The Facebook-owned company has explained how it uses and protects people’s data. In the European Union, the minimum age for signing up on WhatsApp will now be 16 years, and not 13.

In 2016, the service changed its privacy policy, wherein it announced it will be sharing meta data such as device information, a user’s account number, etc with parent-company Facebook. Users have the option of turning this feature off.

WhatsApp had previously said that it collects very little data and every message is end-to-end encrypted.

WhastApp is under scrutiny from European Union privacy regulators over the messaging service’s sharing of user data with parent company Facebook.

Read Also : Facebook will give users right to appeal for removed posts.

The messaging service subsequently suspended the data sharing for EU users under a privacy policy update. Criticising the update, the EU data protection authorities (or Article 29 Working Party) note the changes were “seriously deficient as a means to inform their consent”.

The Article 29 Working Party said the issue of getting user concern over data sharing has still not been resolved by WhatsApp.

Facebook itself is facing th heat over sharing of personal data of over 50 million users with London-based consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which harvested the data to influence the outcome of  the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit vote.

At the moment, WhatsApp says it is not sharing any data with Facebook. But it is not saying it will not in the future.

With the GDPR coming into effect, the companies that operate in Europe, or has European users, will have to comply to the strict privacy standards and give users more access as well as control over their data.

The law applies to companies like Facebook, Google, and more that collect users’ personal information. Under the new regulations, users will need to be notified within 72 hours of a data breach.

It also compels companies to clearly spell out what falls under realm of personal data.

Parental consent is required by the companies to process personal data of children under the age of 16.

How to download your WhatsApp data

Do note that the information will not have users’ chat history, but a report of what their WhatsApp account information and settings.

The “Request Account Info” feature will go live for everyone in the coming weeks. “In the coming weeks, you will be able to download and see the limited data that we collect.

This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,” reads a WhatsApp blog post.

WhatsApp “Request Account Info” option can be accessed by clicking on WhatsApp Settings>Account. Once users click on “Request report”, the screen will update to “Request sent”.

The report may take up to three days to become available from the date of request. The request cannot be cancelled by users.

However, WhatsApp can cancel users’ request for report if they delete their WhatsApp account, change their number or re-register their account while the request is pending.

Once WhatsApp report becomes available, users will get a notification that reads, “Your account info report is ready to download.” WhatsApp users will have a few weeks to download the report, after which it will get deleted from the company’s servers, according to the post.

WhatsApp report can be downloaded as a ZIP file by clicking on WhatsApp Settings > Account > Request account info > Download report. Select “Export report” after the file is downloaded.

The report cannot be viewed on WhatsApp and users will have to see it on an external app or mail a copy of the report to themselves. WhatsApp will give users an option to permanently delete their report as well.

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