WhatsApp to adjust privacy rules in Brazil

The messaging app has committed to improve its terms following negotiations with the local authorities.

After months of negotiations with the authorities, WhatsApp has committed to adjusting its privacy policy in Brazil with transparency practices rolled out in line with the rules in place in the European Union.

The commitment from the messaging app follows cross-government efforts led by the National Data Protection Authority (ANPD), the antitrust watchdog Cade, national consumer body Senacon and the Federal Prosecution Service. The authorities had been engaging with the platform to ensure data protection and consumer rights are observed in Brazil, in the context of the app's updated privacy rules introduced globally in May.

The first result of the discussions held by the four government bodies with WhatsApp and the recommendations made by the authorities was the agreement to suspend the deadline for acceptance of the new terms for 90 days. The Facebook-owned company also said it would not suspend or delete accounts within that period -- the firm later extended that pledge, saying that no users failing to accept the terms would have their accounts deleted.

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Three months after the recommendations made by the Brazilian authorities, WhatsApp presented commitments to comply with several points of the recommendation and ANPD's technical note, as well as technical details on how the measures would be implemented. According to the data protection agency, the first round of negotiations included measures around compliance with points related to transparency and user accessibility.

Further technical assessments made by the data protection authority led to new commitments from WhatsApp, in areas including the adjustment of the privacy notice specific to Brazil. This is to reflect transparency practices in place in other jurisdictions such as the European Union, where users can opt-out of the new privacy policy under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Brazil has its own version of the GDPR, introduced in September 2020.

Beyond that, commitments included an update of the terms of use for WhatsApp Business, the development of reports and other documents requested by the Brazilian data protection body, as well as the creation of educational materials on the safe use of the app by users.

According to the ANPD, WhatsApp will present the Brazilian authorities with evidence of new developments, which are technically complex, until August 31. This will be followed by a meeting between the company and the four government bodies involved in the negotiations when the advances made will be scrutinized and the next steps will be defined.

Contacted by ZDNet, WhatsApp said in a statement that it sees "the opportunity to clarify information" about its updated privacy terms as a positive development.

"The company reinforces its availability for cooperation with the Brazilian authorities and will continue to provide the necessary information both for the authorities as for its users," it added.