WhatsApp, a freeware and cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service, announced it will increase the current age requirement for EU users as the messaging service updates its rules to meet forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May.
The app will ask users to agree to new terms of service in the coming weeks and confirm they are aged 16 years or over, although it is not clear how the new rule will be enforced. The current minimum age for users is 13 years.
GDPR aims to give people more control over how companies use their information and the right to have their data erased. The regulation also includes rules to protect children from having their data collected or employed to create user profiles.
In a blog, WhatsApp explained it “established an entity within the European Union to provide your services there and to meet the new high standards of transparency for how we protect the privacy of our users.”
“In the coming weeks, you will be able to download and see the limited data that we collect. This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,” it added.
The age limit will remain at 13 years in the rest of the world, as is the case with most social media apps including Snapchat and Twitter.
Meanwhile, parent Facebook is taking a different approach to young users. It said those aged 13 years to 15 years will need to get permission from a parent or guardian for their information to be shared on the platform. Otherwise, they will not see a fully personalised version of the service.
Facebook began its GDPR privacy rollout last week. Though European users will be the first to gain access to new privacy controls from the company, the settings will be eventually extended to all 2 billion users.