You should be 16+ to access WhatsApp in Europe now
WhatsApp is increasing its minimum user age from 13 to 16 in Europe. This comes as parent company Facebook looks to comply with an upcoming European data privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The tough law also requires companies to compulsorily offer data portability and delete data upon user request. GDPR will come into effect on May 25.
GDPR requires companies that manage personal data as part of their service to obtain parental consent before on-boarding users under 16. To that end, WhatsApp will start asking users to confirm that they are at least 16 years old before getting on the chat app.
According to GDPR, WhatsApp must make "reasonable efforts to verify" user age, "taking into consideration available technology." WhatsApp said it won't ask for precise birth dates and reminded users that providing false information on the app violates its policies and can lead to getting banned from the service. Notably, the lower age limit of 13 remains intact for the rest of the world.
GDPR aims at updating European data rules from 1995 when security breaches weren't so common. Under it, users get more control over their data on the internet since without their consent companies won't be able to store personal information anymore. WhatsApp will roll out its own data portability tool in the next update to let users download account info, profile photo, and group names.
Facebook is also looking to limit its platform to users between the ages of 13 and 15 in compliance with GDPR. "These teens will see a less personalized version of Facebook with restricted sharing and less relevant ads until they get permission from a parent or guardian to use all aspects of Facebook," a spokesperson company said.