WhatsApp privacy: what’s going on

The war between WhatsApp and Europe continues: after the maxi fine in September, a new banner is coming to explain what changes for users' privacy

There is no peace for WhatsApp's privacy policy, nor is the war between the European Union and Meta, Mark Zuckerberg's giant that with European institutions, to tell the truth, has never had much feeling. In September, the EU has imposed a heavy fine to Meta, amounting to 225 million euros, for the lack of clarity on how the company manages user data.

According to the EU, in fact, is not enough that annoying full-screen message that WhatsApp shows to its users more and more often, hoping that users tap on "Accept", considered insufficient to explain to WhatsApp users what is going to change about their personal data. The story, by now, lasts for months: the first attempt by Facebook (the group, at the time, was not yet called Meta) to change the privacy policy of WhatsApp dates back, in fact, to January 2021. Since then, everything has happened, with the Privacy Authorities of half of Europe that have turned against the giant Menlo Park, followed closely by the equivalent authorities of other countries, halfway around the world. But, in the end, what does it change for users?

Privacy policy WhatsApp: what does it change

The most paradoxical thing of all, in this long and complicated affair, is that for European users of WhatsApp absolutely nothing changes. Everything stems, in fact, from a novelty introduced in the United States that, however, in Europe has not arrived and will probably never arrive: the possibility of passing some data of WhatsApp users to Meta's business partners, primarily to those who have a WhatsApp Business profile.

All this in the EU will not be done, because it is partly in conflict with the GDPR regulation that governs the management of personal data of users. WhatsApp, however, was forced by the EU to warn its users about how personal data is handled, if and when it is exchanged with Meta or other companies, how long it stays on the servers, and how and when it is deleted.

And, again according to the EU, it didn't do it clearly enough. So it was fined.

WhatsApp: another banner coming

All this, in practice, will materialize with a new banner that will appear at the top of the chat list. By tapping on the small banner the user will be able to read the new privacy information, more detailed as Europe asks, and will also be able to close the banner forever.

There won't be a button to accept anything, because there's nothing to accept: it's just information provided to users, who can read it or even ignore it.