WhatsApp banning under-16s in Europe

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The app, which is owned by Facebook, will ask users to confirm their age when prompted to agree new terms of service in the next few weeks.

WhatsApp is set to raise the minimum age of its European users from 13 to 16 to comply with new EU data protection rules, though the minimum age will remain the same for users in other parts of the world.

Users must now be at least 13, but the firm is changing the rules ahead of the introduction of the the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations coming into enforcement on 25th May.

The measure applies to the countries of the European Union.

"Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you", the company said on its blog. Specifically, it states that processing a child's data is only legal when they are aged at least 16, or a parent or guardian has given consent on behalf of their child.

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CNBC reports that WhatsApp and Facebook will keep their current minimum age restrictions at 13 outside of the EU. In the past, it has come under huge scrutiny from some European governments because of its end-to-end encrypted messaging system and its plan to share personal information of its users with Facebook.

The regulations also give users greater powers to access and control how their data is used, and the right to have personal data erased.

The broadcaster adds that some other tech companies, including Apple, will give all of their users, regardless of where they live, the same data rights.

WhatsApp suspended the change in Europe after widespread regulatory scrutiny. It has made substantial changes in the past, including allowing users to download a copy of their data from the app. The blog post also points to safety tips on the service, such as the ability to block unwanted users, and delete and report spam.

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