Whatsapp is making changes to some of their user policies in order to meet regulations in Europe.
The GDPR (General Data Production Regulation) is being released and it requires many companies operating via the internet to change their approach to collection of user data.
Companies that do collect user data are now required to have more restrictive privacy settings by default and all additional collection of data should be on an opt-in basis and not the current opt-out basis. Thus far, users have been giving a lot of information to Facebook without necessarily knowing what exactly they are giving to the site. Going forward, users will actually have to part with these details knowing how exactly the information is going to be used. Gone are the days where you have to go through multiple settings pages to give less information to social media sites like Facebook.
The GDPR is only in Europe for now so we will see if other continents will be following suit anytime soon.
Whatsapp is doing the bare minimum…
Whatsapp does not collect information about users, so how exactly would they know if a user has 16 years. If it’s like other services such as Facebook which asks users to enter their age then there is definitely no point for the feature to exist because everyone will just select the appropriate age regardless of whether or not that’s their actual age. If you were to look a my birthdate on Facebook, I’m apparently hundred-and-something years old. Why? Because Facebook gave me the choice to choose a random date of birth. So I did!
This move is more of Whatsapp just saying, ‘if anything ever goes wrong, we did our part.’ The incentive to to actually use the app in a safe and responsible manner remains on the user.
Other privacy-related features will be making their way to Whatsapp soon
As part of Whatsapp’s move to avoid fears concerning data breaches, they will be adding a feature that enables users to download and see all the data that Whatsapp collects on them. This feature will be available to users throughout the world and is not specific to Europe like the age requirement.
Conversation surrounding internet privacy has recently just spiralled into overdrive following Facebook’ recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. The scandal really confirmed that fears concerning misuse of private data are not paranoia. If data you’ve given to a service like Facebook can be used to influence your opinion on something as sensitive as an election then we should be very cautious of how we view internet privacy.