WhatsApp sells our data to companies

WhatsApp GTC adjustments 2021 - what you really need to know!

For the new year, WhatsApp has updated its terms and conditions of the messaging app, which will become mandatory on May 15, 2021. With the consent, the user now grants, among other things, that certain data can also be shared with Facebook companies and Facebook service providers. But what is really changing for the users of the world's most popular messenger? We spoke to lawyer Dr. Carsten Ulbricht and other data protection experts. First of all, very little changes for private communication.

WhatsApp Terms & Conditions & Data Protection Changes 2021

In the past, the company was often rightly criticized for handling user data, but in the current case objective differentiation is appropriate - at least for WhatsApp users within the EU. Because strong data protection precautions are still in effect here, protecting European users from unjustified data exchange. But one after anonther.

  1. WhatsApp changes its terms and conditions
  2. Which data are affected by the WhatsApp GTC change
  3. The criticism of the WhatsApp terms and conditions changes
  4. WhatsApp Business terms and conditions & data protection - what is really changing
  5. Can WhatsApp read my chats?
  6. Will my data be sold?
  7. Do I have to accept changes to the WhatsApp terms and conditions?
  8. What if I don't agree?
  9. Are other messengers safer?
  10. Can I be sued if I keep using WhatsApp?
  11. How can companies use WhatsApp in a data protection-compliant manner?

1. What will change with the entry into force of the new WhatsApp terms and conditions for users and companies?

Driven by unfortunately often misleading media reports, there is currently confusion about the WhatsApp data protection changes, including outrage over the “data octopus” Facebook.

"The problem is that a lot of the media also report stupid stuff"

Attorney Dr. Carsten Ulbricht in our WUMMM Weekly Podcast.

But what exactly is changing? What does that mean for users and companies? What data is used by WhatsApp for what? What does Facebook do with the data from WhatsApp? The lawyer Dr. Carsten Ulbricht in our WUMMM Weekly Podcast.

2. Which data are affected by the WhatsApp terms and conditions change?

The primary goal of the changes is not to pass on Facebook data, but to expand the possibilities for use for companies and the topic of shopping.

By agreeing to the new terms and conditions, the user now grants, among other things, that certain data can also be shared with Facebook companies and Facebook service providers in order to connect WhatsApp with other products from Facebook companies; to ensure the security and integrity of all products from Facebook companies and to improve the advertising and product experience with regard to products from Facebook companies.

The information includes, for example:

  • Account registration information (such as your phone number)
  • Transaction data,
  • service-related information
  • Information about how you interact with others (including other companies)

❗ However, this exchange of metadata is not new and does not affect any users within the EU, since on the one hand the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) applies and on the other hand the agreement with the EU antitrust authority on the takeover of WhatsApp by Facebook in 2014 prohibits data transfer .

WhatsApp has also explicitly confirmed this to the media:

[…] No changes to WhatsApp's data sharing practices in the European region (including the UK) resulting from the updated Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. For the avoidance of doubt: It is still the case that WhatsApp does not share WhatsApp user data from the European region with Facebook, so that Facebook can use this data to improve its products or advertisements.

WhatsApp once again expresses itself directly and specifically on public and media criticism (source: https://faq.whatsapp.com/general/security-and-privacy/answering-your-questions-about-whatsapps-privacy-policy)

Due to misleading reports, Niamh Sweeney (Director of Policy for WhatsApp, EMEA) also made a very clear statement on Twitter!

2/5 It has been incorrectly reported that WhatsApp’s latest Terms of Service and Privacy Policy update requires users in the European Region to agree to the sharing of data with Facebook for ads purposes in order to continue using the service. This is false.

- Niamh Sweeney (@NiamhSweeneyNYC) January 7, 2021

3. Not clear enough! The criticism of the WhatsApp terms and conditions changes

The privacy policy and terms of use are not as clear as Facebook writes in the FAQ. Johannes Caspar, data protection officer in Hamburg, has initiated proceedings against Facebook so that it becomes clear which data is shared. Since this process is still ongoing, however, there is now an order prohibiting WhatsApp from sharing data with Facebook. Caspar criticizes that the explanations are at least unclear, that different statements are made in different places and that the delimitation to the international information is hardly recognizable.

4. WhatsApp Business terms and conditions & data protection - what is really changing!

In an FAQ article, WhatsApp explains the changes to the terms and conditions and the effects on companies: The changes to the terms and conditions primarily affect the expanded range of WhatsApp for companies. The change in WhatsApp's terms and conditions is intended to ensure security here. Specifically, it is about the Facebook hosting service, the new possibilities such as shops and shopping baskets for conversational commerce via WhatsApp and how users communicate with companies via WhatsApp.

What changes in the WhatsApp terms and conditions changes?

A) That is changing Not in the WhatsApp terms and conditions

The privacy and security of your personal messages and calls don't change.They are protected by end-to-end encryption and neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read or listen to them. WhatsApp / Facebook will never weaken or weaken this security. WhatsApp / Facebook will also mark every chat to inform you about our commitment.

B) That changes with the WhatsApp terms and conditions

WhatsApp / Facebook are working to better serve over 175 million people who exchange messages with businesses every day. These updates are about optional business features. They are part of our broader drive to make corporate communications safer, better, and easier for everyone. The updates include the following:

  • Enable customer service: Many customers would like to chat with a company to ask questions, buy products, or get helpful information such as payment receipts. WhatsApp / Facebook want to simplify chats with companies that may be using Facebook business products.
  • Discover a company: Companies are often discovered on Facebook or Instagram through their advertisements. These can contain a button that interested parties can use to send the company a message via WhatsApp. When you click on such an ad, just like other ads on Facebook, it can be used to personalize the ads you see on Facebook.
  • Shopping experiences: Lots of people are shopping online, especially now with the current restrictions. Some companies that have a shop on Facebook or Instagram can integrate it into their WhatsApp company profile. You can view a company's products on Facebook and Instagram and buy directly from that company in WhatsApp. If you want to interact with shops, we will tell you in WhatsApp how your data will be shared with Facebook.


💡 So it's less about private communication with friends and family on WhatsApp, but more about communication between customers and companies via WhatsApp. Service providers such as MessengerPeople ensure the GDPR-compliant use and processing of this data.

👍 You can find out more about WhatsApp data protection for companies in our lead article WhatsApp and data protection in customer communication - Everything you need to know!

5. Can WhatsApp read my chats?

No! Like Threema or Signal, WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption: This means that the data to be transmitted is encrypted on the sender side and only decrypted again at the recipient. If you don't believe WhatsApp / Facebook, you can read it in the statement of the state data protection officer of Saarland:

The end-to-end encryption used was, according to our assessment, the state of the art, so that it can be assumed that it is technically ensured that WhatsApp does not receive any knowledge of the content of the communication between citizens and the municipality.

Source: The State Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Saarland

6. Does WhatsApp sell my data?

No, as already described above, WhatsApp only has meta data. The data exchange with Facebook is also excluded by the GDPR (at least for EU citizens)!

7. Do I have to accept the WhatsApp GTC changes by May 15th?

No, WhatsApp has softened its deadline. Even users who do not agree to the new terms and conditions after May 15, 2021 can continue to use WhatsApp. First of all, WhatsApp can still be used without consent. However, there is always a hint that you have to agree to the terms of use, WhatsApp users then have to live with constantly clicking away this information.

8. And what happens if I don't agree? Can I continue to use WhatsApp?

In "a few weeks" this notice should appear permanently, WhatsApp writes in a specially created blog post on the questions of what happens in the event of non-consent. If the permanent memory is there, some functions can no longer be used. Initially, access to the chats is denied, but voice and video calls can still be accepted. Messages can still be read via notifications. A few weeks later, WhatsApp no ​​longer works.

The "weeks", ie the duration, is different - it remains unclear which people can write messages for longer.

9. Telegram, Signal, Threema - are other messengers safer?



A basic distinction is made between data protection and data security. Data protection is about what the company can do with the data. Signal and Threema are certainly much more transparent and economical here. But they are not necessarily safer. Signal and WhatsApp, for example, have the same end-to-end encryption. Telegram, on the other hand, has NO standardized end-to-end encryption and is by far no better than WhatsApp when it comes to data protection!

Data security

Data security is about what the company must technically guarantee that nothing unlawful happens to the data. So this is about whether your data could be hacked at some point and then sold on the Darknet, for example. Such data leaks are from Playstation to Netflix, LinkedIn to credit cards or pipeline operators

I rate the data security with WhatsApp relatively high.

Attorney Dr. Carsten Ulbricht in our WUMMM Weekly Podcast.

It only becomes critical with smaller providers such as Signal, Threema, Telegram etc: With these, the reader is asked which messengers are most likely to rely on additional sources of income - and that is probably not primarily the marketing giant Facebook.

At the same time, the app also has to cover its own costs, pay staff and maintain the technical infrastructure. And then they notice that they can also serve another market with the data that is leaked from their users on a daily basis. "

Messenger researcher Roland Schilling

⚡ How secure are WhatsApp, Threema, Signal or Telegram really?

10. Can I be sued if I keep using WhatsApp?

No, you cannot be warned as a private person because you are not subject to the GDPR as a private person. Companies have to look for a GDPR compliant software solution!

11. How can companies use WhatsApp in a data protection-compliant manner?

Even when using WhatsApp for companies, there are always misunderstandings, especially because most of the "data protection experts" check the normal WhatsApp app for GDPR compliance.

With regard to WhatsApp, many data protection officers in companies were up to date 3 years ago!

Attorney Dr. Carsten Ulbricht in our WUMMM Weekly Podcast.

Companies should use the WhatsApp Business API to communicate with their customers in accordance with GDPR! This prevents the data from being passed on directly to WhatsApp!

Use WhatsApp & Co. with MessengerPeople in compliance with data protection regulations:

  • AVV with service provider
  • No data on WhatsApp
  • German servers
  • Roles & rights for employees
  • Deletion concepts
  • Data protection officer
  • General terms and conditions inquiries for customers / consent of the user

With our software solution, you can use WhatsApp in a data protection-compliant and scalable manner. We take care of GDPR-compliant data storage and processing and work with you to ensure that your messenger service is legally compliant.

The Messenger Communication Platform can be used immediately and is browser-based. It offers all the necessary features for efficient customer communication. You can edit and reply to all messages - regardless of which messenger - centrally. The requests can be assigned to colleagues manually as tickets or automatically via autorouting.

Our Chatbot Builder helps you and your company to make customer dialog even more efficient with targeted automation via bot, for example when it comes to the pre-qualification of a customer and his request.

You can get a first impression of our product here:


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