Escalated Probe Gives WhatsApp a Month to Comply with EU Consumer Law

WhatsApp has been given one month to prove that it did not breach EU consumer protection rules after the European Commission and EU consumer authorities further escalated their probe against the messaging app.

Within the recently established mechanism called Consumer Protection Cooperation Network, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and eight of its members filed a complaint against WhatsApp in July 2021, prompting an investigation.

The messaging app was accused by several consumer groups of unfairly pushing its users to accept its new privacy policy and terms and conditions. The app was bombarding the users insistently with a consent pop-up without adequately explaining the implication in terms of personal data processing.

Resulting from the investigation was the official letter that the European Commission sent in January, demanding for WhatsApp to clarify how its new privacy policy met EU consumer protection law and requirements and on any exchanges of personal data with the parent company Meta.

According to the Consumer law, users must be informed about such updates’ implications so they can freely choose if they still want to use the app.

A regulatory dialogue was initiated following that letter – that lasted until the end of February – during which WhatsApp was requested details on how it informed consumers of policy changes by the EU and national authorities.

The consumer protection watchdogs and the EC sent WhatsApp another letter in June asking the messaging app to clarify the outstanding concerns and to show how it intends to communicate future updates to its Terms of Service within a one-month deadline.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders noted in a statement that WhatsApp must ensure its users understand what they accept and how their personal data is used for commercial purposes.

He reiterated his expectations for WhatsApp to fully comply with EU rules that protect consumers and their fundamental rights.

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