The group, along with eight of its members, filed the complaint with the European Commission and European consumer authorities for breaching consumer rights.
WhatsApp’s new privacy and data policy requires users to agree to share data with the platform’s parent company, Facebook. Although the content of messages will remain protected by end-to-end encryption, the app still tracks names, phone numbers, and the location of the user’s internet connection.
While unpopular, the rules change was made controversial due to the way WhatsApp implemented it. Users received a pop-up notice telling them they would need to accept the new terms or delete their app.
As part of the complaint, the BCEU argued that WhatsApp’s new terms are not transparent or comprehensible for users, as it failed to explain the changes in clear language. This too amounts to a breach of EU consumer law, the organisation claimed.
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“They’ve been telling users that their access to their app will be cut off if they do not accept the new terms. Yet consumers don’t know what they’re actually accepting. WhatsApp has been deliberately vague about this and consumers would be exposed to far reaching data processing without valid consent. That’s why we’re calling on the authorities to take swift action against WhatsApp to ensure that it respects consumer rights”.
Introduced in January this year, WhatsApp’s policy sparked a backlash that led to a major spike in downloads for rival end-to-end encrypted messengers like Signal and Telegram.
While the changes were supposed to take effect from February 8th, their unpopularity saw WhatsApp push the deadline back to May.