Popular messaging service WhatsApp is banning users under the age of 16 years from using its services in the European Union. The move comes ahead of the introduction of new EU data privacy regulations in May.
The app which is owned by Facebook will now ask users to confirm their age when prompted to agree to new terms of service in the next few weeks.
However, it is not clear how WhatsApp will confirm the age and enforce the new limit.
WhatsApp said it is not asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement it has created for the European Union. It said, “Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you.”
WhatsApp’s minimum age will remain 13 years outside Europe, in line with its parent company Facebook. However, Facebook, in order to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation Act (GDPR) which comes into effect on May 25, has taken a different approach for its primary social network. As part of its separate data policy, the company requires those aged between 13 to 15 years old to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information with the social media site.
WhatsApp has come under tremendous pressure in the recent years from some European governments for its use of end-to-end encryption and its plan to share user data with its parent company, Facebook.
Facebook itself is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world since it disclosed that the personal information of millions of users ended up in the hands of UK based political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, raising doubts about how it handles user data.
WhatsApp has announced plans to work closely with other Facebook companies in the future.
WhatsApp also announced that it would begin allowing users to download a report detailing the data it holds on them, such as the model of the device they used, their contacts and any blocked numbers. “This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,” it said.