UK data regulator says millions have stopped using WhatsApp

The UK’s largest data protection regulator has told lawmakers that millions of people have stopped using WhatsApp in favor of alternative messaging services like Telegram and Signal.

Elizabeth Denham said changes to terms of service prompted consumers to vote with their virtual feet away from Facebook Inc.

The latest WhatsApp application of the new privacy policy that was announced earlier this month after confusion and user reaction forced the messaging service to provide a better explanation of the data it collects and how it shares this information with the parent company.

“Users hope that companies maintain their confidence and not suddenly change the contract with users,” Denham told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Subcommittee in Parliament on Tuesday. When asked how many people have changed, he replied, “In the millions.”

However, he said the new changes would not apply to UK users under the 2017 agreement his office reached with WhatsApp. The company has agreed not to share user information and contact details until it has demonstrated its ability to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said in an email that the latest update “includes new options for people to write to a company on WhatsApp and provides greater transparency about how data is collected and used.” “This update does not extend our ability to share data with Facebook in the UK or anywhere in the world.”

But Denham said he will follow up with WhatsApp and Facebook about privacy changes and regulatory issues raised by Brexit and report back to the committee.

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Dunham went on to say that she does not use WhatsApp herself, preferring “Signal for my personal contacts.”

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