What Happens if You Don't Accept WhatsApp's New Privacy Policy?

You won't be able to read or send messages from the app until you accept the new terms.
What Happens if You Don't Accept WhatsApp's New Privacy Policy?
Image credit: Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images via PCMag

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Two weeks after a new privacy policy was set to take effect, WhatsApp is still scrambling to inform users of their digital rights.

The chat service came under fire last month when it warned folks they had until Feb. 8 to agree to planned changes—which deal primarily with businesses using WhatsApp to send and store consumer texts. Poor communication regarding exactly what the update entails prompted backlash about how much personal data is shared with parent company Facebook. WhatsApp later delayed the rollout to May 15, giving people less than three months to accept the terms or find a new messaging platform.

In an email to one of its merchant partners, intercepted and confirmed by TechCrunch, the firm said it will "slowly ask" uncooperative users to comply "in order to have full functionality of WhatsApp." Those who refuse consent will, "for a short time" (i.e. a few weeks) still be able to receive calls and notifications, but most important of all, they won't be able to read or send messages from the app anymore.

According to a new FAQ page, WhatsApp will not begin deleting accounts on May 15. However, inactive accounts are generally expunged after 120 of idleness; content stored locally on a user's device prior to deletion remains until WhatsApp is removed from the device.

Keep an eye out for an in-app banner emphasizing WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption, which the social network promised will remain in place after its updated privacy policy kicks in. "The first thing, which is the most important to know, is that WhatsApp cannot read your personal messages, and we cannot hear your personal calls," company head Will Cathcart said in a Thursday video.

The policy, however, can empower Facebook to manage the chats you have with a business on WhatsApp; the social media giant hopes to monetize access by helping firms process chats they have with customers and potentially gain advertising insights from them.

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