A MYSTERIOUS banner is appearing at the top of people’s WhatsApp chats.
The pop-up began rolling out to users in Europe on Monday and highlights how the app uses your data – here’s what it all means.
What is the WhatsApp banner?
The changes are the result of an ongoing legal clash with WhatsApp’s European data protection regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC).
You can tap on the banner to learn more about the changes – or simply ignore it.
There is nothing that users must agree to and the changes to the policy will not affect the way you use WhatsApp, according to the company.
The banner only appears for users in Europe. It does not affect people in the United States.
What does the WhatsApp banner mean?
The alert lets users know that WhatsApp is providing more information about how WhatsApp works and uses your data.
It’s a response to an IDPC ruling in September which held that WhatsApp did not comply with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
GDPR is designed to protect the data and privacy of people in the European Union.
According to the verdict, WhatsApp was not transparent enough with users about how it collected and processed their data.
The company was slapped with a $267million fine for its troubles.
The company says that the changes do not affect its service or your personal conversations, which remain protected and encrypted.
Essentially, it means you can keep using the app as you did before, and don’t need to worry about the messages or data you have stored on it.
“As always, we can’t read or listen to your personal conversations, because they
are end-to-end encrypted,” WhatsApp says on its website.
WhatsApp says it is challenging the IDPC’s ruling but has made the changes to its policy in order to comply with it in the mean time.
“We disagree with the decision and are appealing because we believe we already provided the required information to all our users.
“This update does not change our commitment to user privacy or the way we operate our service, including how we process, use or share your data with anyone, including Meta.
“Wherever you are in the world, we protect all personal messages with end-to-end encryption, which means no one, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”
WhatsApp’s privacy fiasco
The unexpected pop-up is an unsetlling echo of privacy bungle made by WhatsApp earlier this year.
Within the new terms, the company said that it reserved the right to share some user data with the Facebook app.
That sparked global outcries and a rush of new users to competitor private messaging apps including Telegram and Signal.
Users on social media expressed concerns that the alterations to WhatsApp’s terms of service put their personal data at risk.
Some claimed that the new rules gave Meta, then still known as Facebook, permission to read your private messages. WhatsApp denied the accusations.
The California company stressed that the update was focused on allowing users to message with businesses.
It added that the update did not affect personal conversations, which continue to be protected by end-to-end encryption.
However, the damage had already been done. The fiasco exposed a deep mistrust between WhatsApp users and Meta, which has a long history of disregarding user privacy for its own financial gain.
Meta has been rolling out business tools on WhatsApp over the past year as it moves to boost revenue from the app.
It acquired WhatsApp for $19billion in 2014 and is still on the hunt for effective ways to make money off of it.
In other news, Apple has announced that it will let customers fix their own iPhones for the first time starting next year.
The UK is fighting an epidemic of hack attacks targeting consumers and businesses, according to officials.
NASA has slammed Russia after a missile it fired into one of its own satellites forced the space station to perform an emergency swerve.
And, a 75-year-old Brit has told of his anger after scammers on WhatsApp fooled him into sending them hundreds of pounds.
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