FACEBOOK-OWNED WhatsApp is banning under-16s from using its service in Europe in order to comply with the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Currently, WhatsApp users must be 13 and over, but the firm announced this week that it's raising the age limit by three years. In regions outside of Europe, the minimum age to use WhatsApp will remain as 13.
The change is unlikely to go down well with WhatsApp's younger users, as a 2017 Ofcom report shows that around a third of UK-based 12 to 15-year-olds use the messaging app.
"If you live in a country in the European Region, you must be at least 16 years old to use our Services or such greater age required in your country to register for or use our Services," WhatsApp's updated terms of service state.
Over the next few weeks, WhatsApp will ask European users to confirm they are 16 or older as part when they accept its terms of service.
However, it remains unclear how WhatsApp will confirm this and enforce the new limit, as it does not currently verify identity beyond its requirement for a working mobile phone number. The firm said in a blog post this week that it will not be asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement.
Facebook is taking a different approach. In order to comply with GDPR, which will come into force a month today on 25 May, Facebook will require those aged between 13 and 15 years old to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information with the social network, or otherwise limit the personalisation of the site.
WhatsApp also said on Tuesday that it's introducing a new tool called 'Request Account Info' that will allow users to download a copy of their data, including their contacts and any numbers they've blocked. µ
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