Messaging service WhatsApp on Thursday announced its updated terms to its nearly two million users, which would allow the app to share other user data with its parent company Facebook.
The terms include the facilitation of e-commerce through WhatsApp, as Facebook tries to monetize the messaging service.
The new terms would allow WhatsApp Business users to use the updated features in the EU and UK, a company spokesperson told AFP news agency.
WhatsApp has asked its users to accept the new terms and conditions or to no longer have access to the application.
Users irritated by the new terms
Privacy advocates sharply criticized the update, with some warnings that the new terms were not legal.
Arthur Messaud, lawyer for La Quadrature du net, an association for the defense of Internet users, told AFP news agency that the update illegally required users to accept the breach of their data if they wanted to continue using the mail service.
“If the only way to refuse (the change) is to stop using WhatsApp, consent is forced because the use of personal data is illegal,” he said.
The update has aroused the ire of some WhatsApp users, who are considering switching to other instant messaging services. Tesla chief and billionaire Elon Musk took to Twitter to call on people to switch to apps like Signal.
Hours after WhatsApp’s announcement, the Signal messaging app said it was facing an overload of new users.
Signal was developed by data privacy activists to implement a sealed sender policy, concealing message metadata, which could typically reveal the sender, recipient, and timing of messages.
WhatsApp was once considered secure instant messaging software, thanks to its end-to-end encryption.
European Union politicians used the app during Brexit negotiations, which gave rise to the term “WhatsApp diplomacy”. The European Commission then changed course, urging its employees to switch to Signal, citing privacy concerns.
In May 2020, German Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber advised against the use of WhatsApp in federal ministries and institutions, urging government bodies to respect data protection.
WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, has been on a collision course with regulators in the US and the EU for years, with the situation reaching a tipping point at the end of 2020.
In December, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and 48 states filed a lawsuit against Facebook in December for violating competition laws, accusing social media of a monopoly on the market.
The EU also fined Facebook € 110 million (then $ 120 million) for misleading its users about the company’s power to link accounts between its other services as a result of its Controversial takeover of WhatsApp.
Facebook took over WhatsApp in 2014, two years after purchasing the Instagram photo service.