Currently, WhatsApp rules state that all users must be over the age of 16. There is however no enforcement or adequate age verification process to control this.
The fact that messages on WhatsApp are encrypted does still pose potential risks. It can make it more difficult to catch and prosecute online child sex offenders as messages can’t always be deciphered.
The new update from WhatsApp means that data will be shared with Facebook for marketing purposes to drive personalised advertising to users if they live outside the European Union – that currently includes the UK.
However, because of Brexit, Facebook services in the UK will be transferring from Facebook Ireland (Facebook EU’s base) which does leave the potential for data privacy changes. Whether this happens is yet to be confirmed.
WhatsApp has said nothing will change, although proof has yet to be published.