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WhatsApp Agrees to Be More Transparent About Privacy Policy Changes, Says EU

Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp has agreed to be more transparent about changes to its privacy policy introduced in 2021, the European Commission said on Monday, following complaints from consumer bodies across Europe.

The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) and the European Network of consumer authorities told WhatsApp last year that it had not clarified the changes in plain and intelligible language, violating the bloc’s laws.

EU members’ national regulators can sanction companies for breaches.

WhatsApp has now agreed to explain changes to EU users’ contracts and how these could affect their rights, and has agreed to display prominently the possibility for users to accept or reject the changes and ensure that users can easily close pop-up notifications on updates.

The company also confirmed that users’ personal data is not shared with third parties or other Meta companies, including Facebook, for advertising purposes.

“Consumers have a right to understand what they agree to and what that choice entails concretely, so that they can decide whether they want to continue using the platform,” Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said.

Last month, Ireland’s Data Privacy Commissioner (DPC), EU’s lead privacy regulator, said that Meta must reassess the legal basis on how Facebook and Instagram use personal data to target advertising in the European Union and found the social media giant EUR 390 million (roughly Rs. 3,500 crore) for the breaches.

The DPC, which is the lead privacy regulator for many of the world’s largest technology companies within the EU, directed Meta to bring its data processing operations into compliance within three months.

The penalties brought the total fines levied against Meta to date by the Irish regulator to EUR 1.3 billion (roughly Rs. 11,500 crore). It currently has 11 other inquiries open into Meta services.

The DPC said that as part of its decision, the EU’s privacy watchdog had purported to direct the Irish regulator to conduct a fresh investigation that would span all of Facebook and Instagram’s data processing operations.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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