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WhatsApp, Fb to share users’ data outside Europe and UK

WHATSAPP is forcing users to agree to share information with Facebook if they want to --keep using the service -- or delete their accounts, except European and UK users Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, said Europe and UK would not see the same data-sharing changes, but they will need to accept new terms.

The deadline in both regions to accept the change is February 8. The move has prompted some people online - including Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk - to call for users to switch to other more privacy-focused messaging services like Signal and Telegram.

There was initial confusion over how much the enhanced sharing of data would affect EU and UK users.

The “key updates” summary of important changes highlights integration with Facebook in the international copy - but not on the European version of the same page.

Later on, Facebook issued a statement saying there would be no changes in the “European region” - which covers the EU, EEA, and post-Brexit UK. “For the avoidance of any doubt, it is still the case that WhatsApp does not share European region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or advertisements,” a spokesperson said.

However, the new version of the privacy policy for European users explicitly says that data can be shared with other Facebook companies to show personalized advertising and offers, make suggestions for content, and “help” to complete purchases, among other reasons.

Facebook says it does not use WhatsApp information for those kinds of purposes in Europe, because of negotiations with European data protection bodies. Some held the development up as a success for Europe’s tighter privacy regulations introduced in recent years.

What is collected elsewhere?

WhatsApp said it shares a wide range of user information with other Facebook companies, including

: • phone number and other information provided on registration (such as name)

• information about your phone, including make, model, and mobile company

• your IP address, which indicates location of your internet connection

• any payments and financial transactions made over WhatsApp

But it also said it may share any data covered by its privacy policy - which could include contacts, status updates, when people use WhatsApp and for how long, and unique identifying numbers for users’ phones.

Facebook has not responded to a request for clarification on why it has made the sudden changes.