WhatsApp, Turkey make contradictory statements on data privacy update
WhatsApp has informed Turkey that its controversial new data-sharing rules will not come into effect in the country, the Turkish competition watchdog said on May 21.
The Competition Authority said it had been informed by WhatsApp that it would not implement a messaging app update in Turkey allowing it and owner Facebook Inc to collect certain user data.
However, WhatsApp said in a statement later on May 21 that a final decision has not been made regarding the implementation of the update in Turkey.
“We are still in contact with relevant authorities on steps that will be taken,” said WhatsApp, adding that they will try to keep providing secure communication services ensuring privacy.
In January, WhatsApp updated its terms of service, allowing Facebook and its subsidiaries to collect user data such as phone numbers and locations, triggering a backlash in Turkey and a probe by the Competition Board, which is the decision-making body of the Competition Authority.
“WhatsApp conveyed to us that the update in question involving data sharing would not be imposed on any users in Turkey, including those who approved it,” the authority said in a statement.
WhatsApp’s move had caused many to migrate to other messaging apps like Turkey’s domestic BiP, a unit of Turkcell, Signal and Telegram. Many chose to close down their WhatsApp accounts even though the messaging app assured that the content of messages would remain encrypted.
Turkey’s government has imposed new restrictions and fines on social media companies since it passed a law in July that it says bolsters local oversight of the foreign firms.