Why is WhatsApp under the EU scanner?
Facebook itself is facing heat over sharing of personal data of over 50 million users with London-based consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which harvested the data to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit vote. At the moment, WhatsApp says it is not sharing any data with Facebook. But it is not saying it will not in the future.
What is General Data Protection Regulation?
With the GDPR coming into effect, the companies that operate in Europe, or has European users, will have to comply to the strict privacy standards and give users more access as well as control over their data. The law applies to companies like Facebook, Google, and more that collect users’ personal information. Under the new regulations, users will need to be notified within 72 hours of a data breach. It also compels companies to clearly spell out what falls under realm of personal data. Parental consent is required by the companies to process personal data of children under the age of 16.
How to download your WhatsApp data
The “Request Account Info” feature will go live for everyone in the coming weeks. “In the coming weeks, you will be able to download and see the limited data that we collect. This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,” reads a WhatsApp blog post.
Do note that the information will not have users’ chat history, but a report of what their WhatsApp account information and settings. WhatsApp “Request Account Info” option can be accessed by clicking on WhatsApp Settings>Account. Once users click on “Request report”, the screen will update to “Request sent”. The report may take up to three days to become available from the date of request. The request cannot be cancelled by users. However, WhatsApp can cancel users’ request for report if they delete their WhatsApp account, change their number or re-register their account while the request is pending.
Once WhatsApp report becomes available, users will get a notification that reads, “Your account info report is ready to download.” WhatsApp users will have a few weeks to download the report, after which it will get deleted from the company’s servers, according to the post.
WhatsApp report can be downloaded as a ZIP file by clicking on WhatsApp Settings > Account > Request account info > Download report. Select “Export report” after the file is downloaded. The report cannot be viewed on WhatsApp and users will have to see it on an external app or mail a copy of the report to themselves. WhatsApp will give users an option to permanently delete their report as well.