Users will be blocked from using parts of WhatsApp if they don’t accept new terms

From 15 May 2021, Facebook will require users to accept its new terms and conditions for its popular WhatsApp messaging app or risk losing key features.

If you have not accepted WhatsApp’s new policy after a period of several weeks, the notification requesting your acceptance will eventually become persistent, Facebook said.

At that time, you’ll encounter limited functionality on WhatsApp until you accept the updates.

  • You won’t be able to access your chat list, but you can still answer incoming phone and video calls. If you have notifications enabled, you can tap on them to read or respond to a message or call back a missed phone or video call.
  • After a few weeks of limited functionality, you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and WhatsApp will stop sending messages and calls to your phone.
  • You can export your chats and download a report of your account on your own.

Facebook said that the will not happen to all users at the same time and that WhatsApp won’t delete your account if you don’t accept the update.

Information regulator 

In a statement on Thursday (13 May), South Africa’s Information Regulator (IR) warned South Africans of the cut-off date and said that it was now considering its legal options.

The regulator said it has written to WhatsApp and requested it to revise the privacy policy in South Africa to the standard used in the European Union (EU).

However, the IR said it has received no agreement from WhatsApp, and that under the circumstances the regulator is briefing attorneys to prepare an opinion on the way forward terms of litigation.

“It remains the regulator’s assertion that the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) has a privacy regime which is very similar to the EU regime, and therefore believes that WhatsApp should adopt the EU policy in South Africa, and other countries in the global south that have similar regimes.

“The regulator remains of the view that despite WhatsApp operating in different legal and regulatory environments, there are effectively two privacy policies for the users of WhatsApp,” it said.

It added that there are substantial differences between the policies for users living in Europe compared to the one for users living outside of Europe.

Given Facebook’s status as one of the world’s largest companies, the IR said it is of the view that it should work together with other organisations in order to hold Facebook accountable.

The regulator said it has also asked  Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to request Facebook South Africa and WhatsApp to appear in parliament on this matter.

“We are obligated as the Regulator to ensure the protection of personal information of all South African citizens and monitor compliance of the POPIA by responsible parties.

“We therefore will take this matter further and seek legal opinions and advocate for collaborated efforts,” said chairperson of the Regulator, Advocate Pansy Tlakula.

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Users will be blocked from using parts of WhatsApp if they don’t accept new terms