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WhatsApp bans under-16 users in EU

Popular messaging service WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has raised the minimum age of users in the European Union from 13 to 16.

The move comes ahead of before the new EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on May 25. The new age limit only applies to those living in the EU.

“We had to make a trade-off between collecting more information or deciding to keep it simple and raise the minimum age of users to 16 across Europe,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

GDPR seeks to expand and update data rules that have been in place in Europe since 1995 — long before hacks, security breaches and data leaks became a common occurrence.

The rules give Europeans more control over their personal data. Companies must obtain an individual’s consent in order to store and process personal data and won’t be allowed to hold data for longer than is necessary.

GDPR also requires companies handling the personal data of anyone under the age of 16 to receive consent from a parent or guardian. They must make “reasonable efforts to verify” user ages, “taking into consideration available technology.”

Austin Ohaegbu

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