[Update: Not really] WhatsApp scraps May 15 deadline for its controversial privacy policy

[Update: Not really] WhatsApp scraps May 15 deadline for its controversial privacy policy

Update 1 (05/07/2021 @ 11:40 AM ET): WhatsApp has provided clarification on the May 15 deadline and actions beyond. Click here for more information. The article as published earlier today, is preserved below.

WhatsApp had recently announced a new privacy policy to clarify how the company collects and uses data when a user messages a business. However, because of WhatsApp’s failure to properly educate users on the changes, implications of data sharing with Facebook, a healthy dose of skepticism, and social media being social media, millions of users were up in arms about the changes, with many fleeing to alternative apps like Telegram and Signal. And now as it turns out, WhatsApp has decided to scrap the May 15 deadline for its controversial privacy policy.

According to a tweet from the Press Trust of India, WhatsApp has scrapped the May 15 deadline for accepting its privacy policy. The report further states that no accounts will be deleted if the new terms are not accepted by users, which is a complete U-turn from its stance before.

At the time of the first announcement, users had to accept this new privacy policy that opened the way for deeper Facebook integration before February 8, failing which they would not be allowed to use the messaging service. The deadline was then pushed forward to May 15 after public backlash, and now it seems that the deadline and related coercive action has been dropped entirely. The Indian government had also recently asked WhatsApp to roll back its controversial policy. But from what we can interpret, the policy is not rolled back and will remain in place for users who have already accepted, and there appears to be no clear way to reject the policy once accepted. There is no clear information available yet whether this applies only to Indian users, or is applicable globally.


Update: WhatsApp clarifies earlier report

It appears that our original interpretation of the statements provided to Press Trust of India was narrow, and we apologize for the same. Facebook has provided further information on what is actually going to happen. The company reiterates that May 15 is the deadline for accepting the privacy policy.

However, it is only the account deletion that will not be an immediate event on May 15. Users who have not yet accepted the new policy will have their WhatsApp functions limited slowly after that date, until they do so.

In a statement, WhatsApp said the following:

We’ve spent the last several months providing more information about our update to users around the world. In that time, the majority of people who have received it have accepted the update and WhatsApp continues to grow. However, for those that have not yet had a chance to do so, their accounts will not be deleted or lose functionality on May 15. We’ll continue to provide reminders to those users within WhatsApp in the weeks to come.

WhatsApp spokesperson

As WhatsApp clarifies in their FAQ:

Q: What happens on the effective date?

A: No one will have their accounts deleted or lose functionality of WhatsApp on May 15th because of this update.

For the last several weeks we’ve displayed a notification in WhatsApp providing more information about the update. After giving everyone time to review, we’re continuing to remind those who haven’t had the chance to do so to review and accept. After a period of several weeks, the reminder people receive will eventually become persistent.

Q: What happens after I receive a persistent reminder?

A: At that time, you’ll encounter limited functionality on WhatsApp until you accept the updates. This will not happen to all users at the same time.

    • 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.

WhatsApp won’t delete your account if you don’t accept the update. However, their separate policy on inactive accounts will continue to apply, wherein accounts inactive for 120 days are deleted automatically.

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

I am a tech journalist with XDA since 2015, while being a qualified business-litigation lawyer with experience in the field. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected]