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Minimum Age for WhatsApp Raised to 16 in Europe to Comply with GDPR

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Published on : Apr 25, 2018

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, will ask European users to confirm they are at least 16 when they are prompted to accept new terms of service and an updated privacy policy in the coming weeks. Users must currently be at least 13, but the firm is changing the rules ahead of the introduction of new EU data privacy regulations in May.

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.

Facebook, which has a separate data policy, is taking a different approach to users aged between 13 and 15. It will ask the teenager to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform. If permission is not provided, the user will not see a fully personalised version of the social network.

GDPR is the biggest overhaul of online privacy since the birth of the Internet, giving Europeans the right to know what data is stored on them and the right to have it deleted. Apple and some other tech firms have said they plan to give people in the United States and elsewhere the same protections and rights that Europeans will gain.

Other changes announced by WhatsApp on Tuesday include allowing users to download a report detailing the data it holds on them, such as the make and model of the device they used, their contacts and groups and any blocked numbers.