WhatsApp Set To Raise The Age Limit For European Users

Alongside a couple of other big changes, WhatsApp reportedly has plans to raise the age limitations for its services in at least one region at some point over the next few weeks. Specifically, anybody over the age of 13 can currently use the app and associated networking tools, that will be shifted to 16-years or older across Europe. The minimum age will not be changing elsewhere but this change should come as no surprise. That's particularly true, given recently reported instances of data collection problems associated with underage users. That is, in fact, the root of these changes, with WhatsApp implementing new rules to comply with the subsequent introduction of new government-based privacy rules.

However, while the company's parent - Facebook - has been more actively cracking down on accounts held by children without an adult's permission, WhatsApp will be taking a decidedly different approach. At this juncture, it appears as though the company will essentially just be asking users to verify that they're old enough, following the changes. There hasn't been any discussion regarding how the responses will be verified or if they will at all. Since there won't be any changes to the company's already minimal data collection policies, it is arguably unclear whether the new policy will even be enforceable.

In the meantime, there is at least one change set to be included with the updated app and policies when those arrive. After the policy change and the associated app update which will probably follow, users will be able to access and download a full report containing all of the information and data held by WhatsApp about themselves. That will include their contacts, blocked numbers, the known make and model of their smartphone, and possibly quite a bit more. With that said, the company has prided itself on the use of end-to-end encryption and collecting a minimal amount of user data. So there's no way of knowing at this point how much more might be in those reports. In any case, this is actually very unlikely to be the only policy change among the many Android applications commonly used by minors in Europe. It should be expected that others will follow suit in order to maintain accordance with European law.

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Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]