WhatsApp agrees to conform to EU consumer protection rules

whatsapp eu

WhatsApp, the popular mobile messaging app, has agreed to comply with the European Union’s terms on consumer protection, which include prohibiting the company from sharing personal data with third parties and establishing clearer terms of service.  

Consumer protection has become a priority for EU authorities, and they have been taking real steps to ensure the public is not affected by unfair practices or fuzzy intentions from companies operating on the continent.  

One company who has been in the crosshairs is the widely used messaging app WhatsApp. In January 2022, the European Commission’s Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network sent a letter to WhatsApp following an alert by powerful European consumer organisation BEUC regarding claims by eight members that the messaging app was using unfair practices in their terms of service and privacy policy updates.  

A second letter was sent in June, which reiterated the request that consumers must be clearly informed about WhatsApp’s business model as well as if the company receives payments from users’ personal data. A later discussion found that WhatsApp does not share personal information for advertising purposes, but it did make them relook at other aspects of the business and model that could be improved.  

For the future, the company will now explain changes to user contracts and how their rights will be affected, if at all, include the option of rejecting updated service terms as easily as it is to accept them, and make sure updates can be accessed and reviewed conveniently by consumers, without users being repeatedly notified if they choose not to be.  

The CPC will monitor how WhatsApp progresses in the implementation of these changes, reserving the right to enforce compliance, using fines if necessary.  

These measures come on the heels of a new EU study on dark patterns, which revealed how numerous online companies employ tactics that mislead clients, force them to make snap-judgement purchases, or to make unsubscribing difficult.  


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Photo source: Markus Spiske for Unsplash