WhatsApp to raise minimum age to 16 over new EU data laws

Facebook will also exclude children unless their parents vouch for them

(Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Messaging service WhatsApp is increasing its minimum age requirement from 13 to 16 ahead of the introduction of strict new data laws across the EU.

The Facebook-owned app will prompt users to confirm they are 16 or older, as well as agree to new terms of service and privacy, “in the next few weeks”, The Independent reports.

However, it is not known how the messaging service will enforce the age limit, nor whether under-16s already using WhatsApp will be denied access following the new user policies.

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The changes have been announced in the run-up to the launch of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, which gives people “more control over how companies use their information”, says the BBC.

Under the new legislation, which comes into effect from 25 May, people have the right to get any of their personal data stored by a company erased, and to prevent third parties from collecting information on children for marketing purposes.

WhatApp’s approach to the data protection laws differs from that of its parent company, says The Verge.

Facebook will instead ask users aged between 13 and 15 to “gain parental permission for sharing personal information on the platform”.

Those who fail to get permission from a guardian will be shown “a more generic version of Facebook” that is less reliant on personal data, the tech news site says.

CNBC reports that WhatsApp and Facebook will keep their current minimum age restrictions at 13 outside of the EU.

The broadcaster adds that some other tech companies, including Apple, will give all of their users, regardless of where they live, the same data rights.

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