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Consumer organisations complaining WhatsApp's privacy rules

WhatsApp sued for breaching multiple EU consumer rights

The European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, and eight of its members have filed a complaint against Facebook-owned WhatsApp for multiple breaches of EU consumer rights. The complaint has been submitted to the European Commission and the European network of consumer authorities.

“For several months now, WhatsApp has been unduly pressuring its users to accept its new terms of use and privacy policy. Yet these terms are neither transparent nor comprehensible for users.”

“The complaint is first due to the persistent, recurrent and intrusive notifications pushing users to accept WhatsApp’s policy updates. The content of these notifications, their nature, timing and recurrence put an undue pressure on users and impair their freedom of choice. As such, they are a breach of the EU Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices.”

BEUC Director General Monique Goyens said: “WhatsApp has been bombarding users for months with aggressive and persistent pop-up messages to force them to accept its new terms of use and privacy policy. They’ve been telling users that their access to their app will be cut off if they do not accept the new terms.”

“Yet consumers don’t know what they’re actually accepting. WhatsApp has been deliberately vague about this and consumers would be exposed to far reaching data processing without valid consent. That’s why we’re calling on the authorities to take swift action against WhatsApp to ensure that it respects consumer rights”.

Facebook has said If you have not accepted the terms, it will begin to turn off features until you do. When the company early 2021 tried to make users accept the terms, competitors were flooded by WhatsApp users wanting to change for another app.

“After a few weeks of limited functionality, you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and WhatsApp will stop sending messages and calls to your phone,” the company said.

Basically, the new terms means the app will share more data with Facebook for business-specific actions within the messaging platform. The idea is to better enable e-commerce.

BEUC is the umbrella group for 46 independent consumer organisations from 32 countries

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