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WhatsApp says users must be 16 or older to access the app in Europe

WhatsApp says users must be 16 or older to access the app in Europe

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

WhatsApp is banning anyone under 16 years old from using its app in Europe. It’s raising the age limit by three years just as the European data privacy rules start kicking in on May 25th, as spotted by Reuters.

When users in Europe log onto the app in the next few weeks, they’ll be asked to confirm their age when accepting the new terms of service and an updated privacy policy. WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has a separate data policy of its own. It’s made new changes beyond raising the age limit, including allowing users to download a copy of their data from WhatsApp, which will contain their contacts and any numbers they’ve blocked.

Facebook’s approach to complying with the new rules will instead be to ask teens ages 13 to 15 to gain parental permission for sharing personal information on the platform. If they don’t get permission, they’ll see a more generic version of Facebook that’s not customized based on their data.

In regions outside of Europe, the minimum age to use WhatsApp is still 13. Europe’s GDPR will force companies to follow users’ requests to delete personal data, and in the month leading up to the rules’ enforcement — and especially in the aftermath of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data breach — tech companies are rethinking their data retention policies.