WhatsApp has until end of Feb to clarify privacy policy change: EU

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram logos are displayed in this illustration taken Oct 4, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Facebook unit WhatsApp has been given until the end of February to explain changes to its privacy policy and whether this complies with EU consumer protection laws after complaints from consumer groups, the European Commission said on Thursday.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and eight of its members took their grievances to the EU executive and the European network of consumer authorities, saying WhatsApp was unfairly pressuring users to accept its new privacy policy which allows it to share some data with Facebook and other group firms.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said he shared the worries and has asked WhatsApp to clarify the policy and if it complies with EU consumer protection law.

"WhatsApp has until the end of February to come back to us with concrete commitments on how they will address our concerns," he said in a statement.

Areas of concern include whether the company provides sufficient information about its new terms of service and if its notifications prompting users to accept the new terms and privacy policy are fair.

The Commission said it was also concerned about the exchange of users' personal data between WhatsApp and third parties or other Facebook/Meta companies.

"We look forward to explaining to the European Commission how we protect our users' privacy in compliance with our obligations under EU law," a WhatsApp spokesperson said.