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Privacy e Whatsapp

The Italian Data Protection Authority has drawn the attention of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to the notice whereby the app WhatsApp announced to update its terms of service and privacy policy. As stated in the message appeared a few days ago on the smartphones of the platform’s users - subject to criticism - as of 15 May 2021, users will be asked to accept the new terms of service and the updated privacy policy in order to continue using the service.

Privacy e Whatsapp

In this regard, the Italian Data Protection Authority has defined the terms of service and the privacy policy, as unilaterally modified by the Californian giant, as “not clear and intelligible enough”, specifying - in a note dated 14 January 2021 - that it would be difficult for users to understand what changes have been introduced and what data processing will be carried out by the service after the established date. Moreover, the same Authority stated that such information cannot be considered suitable for a fully informed, free choices by the recipients.

As for the terms of service, the most worrying aspect is the sharing of data with other companies of the Facebook Inc. group, including the social network Facebook, judged by the European Court of Justice as being incapable of guaranteeing the protection of European users' rights (Schrems II judgment of 2020).

For these reasons, the Data Protection Authority brought the matter before the EDPB, which brings together the European privacy authorities, and announced that it would take urgent measures to protect Italian users in order to ensure compliance with personal data protection legislation.

WhatsApp has quickly responded to the criticism, pointing out that the update will have no effect on European users in terms of the privacy of messages exchanged with friends and family, but will make some changes with regard to the WhatsApp Business version only. In addition, it stated that the update will provide a greater degree of transparency on the collection and use of data via the private, end-to-end encrypted messaging system.

In addition, Niamh Sweeney, Director of Policy for WhatsApp, clarified that:
- WhatsApp will not make any changes to the data-sharing practices with Facebook in the European area, continuing not to share any data that allows Facebook to improve its products and advertisements;
- if in the future there is a need to share data between the two platforms, it will be negotiated an agreement with the Irish Data Protection Commission on a mechanism that allows the use of data for this purpose.

Waiting for a response from the EDPB and possible action from the Italian Privacy Authority, we recommend you consult the privacy policy before 15 May, when the new business options will be available.