WhatsApp is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe to help it comply with new data privacy rules coming into force next month.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May, will give people much more control over how companies use their information. They will also have the right to have personal data erased. It also includes specific protections to protect children from having their personal data collected for marketing purposes, or to create user profiles.
Whatsapp, which has faced scrutiny for its data sharing practices in the past, said its move would help it meet the “new high standards of transparency” in the EU.
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.
The company added that it is not “currently sharing account information” to help aid your experience on Facebook, but rather it wants to work “closer with other Facebook companies in the future and we will keep you updated as we develop our plans.”
It is not clear how or if the age limit will be checked given the limited data requested and held by the service.
However, the app plans to keep its age limit at 13 in the rest of the world.
WhatsApp will also be allowing all users to download a report detailing the data it holds on them as part of its new terms of service. That could include the make and model of the device they use, their contacts and groups and any blocked numbers.
Facebook, which has also been criticised for its handling of personal data, is taking a different approach to younger users. To comply with GDPR, the social network is asking those aged 13 to 15 to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform. If they do not, they will not see a fully personalised version of the platform.