WhatsApp pledges to not delete user accounts in Brazil as privacy row continues

The messaging app reacts to a statement from the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee calling for transparency and raising concerns over the company's latest privacy update.

Following a public statement from the Brazilian Steering Committee (CGI.br) on privacy rights, WhatsApp said it will not exclude users refusing to accept the latest update to the firm's new terms of service.

Earlier this month, CGI.br released a statement raising a series of points regarding the policies of the messaging app, taking into consideration Brazil's local data protection regulations, enforced in September 2020. The Steering Committee also noted that it held a series of discussions with the messaging app and Brazilian authorities to discuss the matter. CGI.br also supported the ongoing activities led by Brazil's data protection agency ANPD, national consumer body Senacon, the Federal Prosecution Service and competition watchdog Cade to identify and address any potential shortcomings in the messaging app's policies.

The statement stressed that the changes brought forward in WhatApp's latest update "raise fundamental questions about users' right to privacy and data protection, as well as issues of transparency and adherence to the laws enforced in the country." The new privacy policy, introduced in May, changes how the app partners with Facebook to "offer integrations", with businesses able to use Facebook services to manage WhatsApp chats.

Moreover, the Steering Committee urged WhatsApp to "take urgent measures to increase the transparency mechanisms of its services with regard to compliance with Brazilian legislation", and also "offer an option that allows users to revoke acceptance of the new terms" as well as ensuring "the continuity of services, also to users who rejected, in the 2016 privacy policy, the sharing of their data with the Facebook-owned companies."

In response to the requests from CGI.br, WhatsApp said in a statement that "no user will have their account deleted or will lose access to the app's features because of this update".

The company also noted the new rules do not affect, "in any way", the privacy of messages exchanged between users. It added that it is "important to reinforce that the update of the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy does not expand WhatsApp's ability to share data with Facebook".