Haven't you accepted the new WhatsApp conditions yet? A focus on the question

Haven't you accepted the new WhatsApp conditions yet? A focus on the question

The panic generated by the announcement - now a few months ago - by WhatsApp of the imminent change in the general conditions of use returns thanks to the BEUC (Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs), which has recently denounced WhatsApp to the European Commission for the presumed pressure exerted on users and for the conditions of use of the service deemed too unclear.

The topic is much debated and of considerable interest, since the messaging app in question represents a daily means of communication for countless users: what happens, then, if the conditions dictated are not accepted?

Many have opted for other social networks, so as to avoid directly questioning whether to accept or not, or simply why considered this choice more protective than the conditions "offered" by WhatsApp.

Let's see what would actually change and above all what are the most critical points à identified by the BEUC.

The fact remains that, according to WhatsApp, users who decide not to accept the new changes (effective from May 15, 2021) will not suffer any consequences and will not be deprived of their accounts .

The reassurances, however, do not seem to be enough and the question is still far from being over.

What happened in January?

The Privacy Guarantor Italian, with a note dated 14 January last, noted that "from the terms of service and the new information is not (ed it is) possible for users to understand what changes have been introduced, nor to clearly understand which data processing will actually be carried out by the messaging service after 8 February. This information does not therefore appear to be suitable for allowing WhatsApp users to express a free and aware will ".

WhatsApp privacy The statements of the Guarantor summarize the fulcrum of the issue that began to take hold in the first months of 2021, when the announcement of the new conditions by WhatsApp had triggered reactions of confusion and uncertainty among users . The news was so incisive that it was - and still is - the subject of an investigation by the European data protection authorities, which are verifying the degree of protection offered by WhatsApp towards users in the light of the new changes.

The complaints of the BEUC

From January of this year some things do not seem to have changed and we find ourselves once again pointing the finger at the lack of clarity of the changes proposed by WhatsApp to users.

The BEUC complaint moves along two lines, which intersect with each other.

On the one hand we focus on the protection of consumers, therefore of users who use the WhatsApp service for mere personal purposes. On the other hand, however, the protection of user privacy, already the subject of a separate investigation by the European supervisory authorities.

The director general of the BEUC said that "WhatsApp was deliberately vague. This is why we ask the authorities to take swift action against WhatsApp to ensure respect for consumer rights ", while a spokesperson for WhatsApp retorted, declaring that" BEUC's action is based on a misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of the update our terms of service. The update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook and does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family, wherever they are in the world ".

According to the BEUC, the terms of the changes would therefore be unclear: will our data be transferred to Facebook for commercial purposes? What does the change in the general conditions consist of, if the non-acceptance will not lead to consequences? These and many other questions are still pending, which WhatsApp reserves the right to clarify in depth, if needed.

Despite, in fact, the EU Regulation 679/2016 on the protection of personal data protects users of the " European Region "it is however legitimate to wait for explanations regarding the use of data that WhatsApp intends to do, even with the possible involvement of third parties.

WhatsApp Business: a particular hypothesis

An example of criticality on the issue in question is represented by the WhatsApp Business option: will the user, in his communications with companies or brands, be profiled and therefore will be the "unconscious" object of marketing activities?

It would seem that in this case we cannot rely on the reassurances of WhatsApp in terms of "confidentiality of communications", because there would be the hypothesis in which the data of the users of the app could not remain in the exclusive possession of Wh atsApp, but become the object of transfers for marketing / commercial purposes.

What scares the most, however, is the lack of awareness to which the user is exposed: if the information on the conditions of use and on the processing activities data are unclear, can the user be truly informed?

The response of the European Commission

"The European Commission in the coming weeks will carefully evaluate all the elements presented by the BEUC together with the national consumer protection authorities to assess the need for further investigation on the issue and for any coordinated action as required by the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Regulation. " These are the words of an official of the European Commission, which represent - for the moment - the latest update on the issue. Currently, therefore, WhatsApp seems to be under attack from several fronts and the next few weeks will better clarify the consequences of the actions taken against the latter.

How to protect yourself from unclear information?

It seems, therefore, that the story does not end here and that the news will not struggle to arrive. This is because the interest raised by the topic will ensure that a definitive conclusion of the matter is reached, capable of making the user consciously decide on whether or not to accept the conditions offered by WhatsApp. However, choices of this type are not always easy to make, especially if you do not have enough experience in the sector.

To avoid making rash decisions, which very often lead to very delicate consequences and which put at risk the rights of users, it is useful to contact those who made the…. Its flagship. If you also have doubts, contact our partner Studio FCLEX, to request personalized advice on your specific case.

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