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WhatsApp raises minimum age in Europe ahead of new privacy laws


WhatsApp is raising the minimum age to use its popular messaging app to 16 from 13 for European users, ahead of new data privacy laws slated to go into effect in the region next month.

The messaging app, which is owned by Facebook and counts more than 1.5 billion monthly active users, will start to ask European users if they are over the age of 16 when they see the new terms of service and a new privacy policy in the next few weeks, Reuters reported.

The rule change is in advance of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), slated to role out on May 25. Reuters added that it is still unclear how the age limit would be checked.


In the rest of the world, WhatsApp's minimum age will remain at 13 years old, the same for Facebook.

In a blog post, WhatsApp said it was not asking for new rights, but rather to explain how it uses the data it already has.

"We are not asking for new rights to collect personal information with this update," WhatsApp wrote in the post. "Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you."

The company added that it is not "currently sharing account information" to help aid your experience on Facebook, but rather it wants to work "closer with other Facebook companies in the future and we will keep you updated as we develop our plans."

WhatsApp has come under the spotlight in recent weeks after its parent company Facebook suffered a data privacy breach when marketing research firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly improperly accessed 87 million Facebook accounts.

On Twitter, Brian Acton, one of the co-founders of WhatsApp, said it was time to delete Facebook.

The company has also come under pressure because it has end-to-end encryption, making it so no one can read a user's messages.

In addition, WhatsApp said that in "the coming weeks," users would be able to download and see the "limited data" WhatsApp collects. The feature will roll out to all of its users with the newest version of the app, it added.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia