The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to come into effect in Europe in exactly a month’s time. Aimed primarily at giving users control over their own data, the GDPR, which comes into effect on May 25, addresses the export of personal data outside the EU among other things.
A blog post by WhatsApp said,
“We are not asking for new rights to collect personal information with this update. Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you.”
However, there are two significant changes. The minimum age for signing up on WhatsApp in the European Union will now be 16 years, and not 13. Also, for the first time, users will be able to download what data they share with WhatsApp.
This feature will be extended to all WhatsApp users at the same time in a few weeks. There will also be a web page with tips on how to stay safe on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp collects only that data which it needs to provide its service and is hence limited. None of the messages or the files shared are stored by the company. Even call logs are not stored in its files.
The data folders will be specific to the phone numbers used to create the accounts.
These are fields of data that WhatsApp stores and will now share with the user:
- Time the report was pulled
- Whether user was online or offline at that point
- IP address last connected from (saved for diagnostic purposes)
- Phone type
- Profile photo
- Phone numbers you upload without the names
- List of groups you are in
- Terms of service accepted
- Blocked users
The WhatsApp blog mentioned that the app is not “currently sharing account information to improve your product and ads experience on Facebook”. However, as stated earlier, WhatsApp does want to “work closely with other Facebook companies in the future” and promised to keep users updated on these plans.
The blog also spoke about the safety issue, pointing out that those sending spam or abusive content across WhatsApp or Facebook could be blocked from both services. The new page will offer tips on how to stay safe on WhatsApp. Aimed primarily at giving users control over their own data, the GDPR, which comes into effect on May 25, addresses the export of personal data outside the EU among other things.