Overview

WhatsApp is a general-purpose messaging app. If you are an existing user, you can choose not to have your WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences. Personal Information collected includes the messages themselves, including chats, photos, videos, voice messages, files, and share location information. WhatsApp's policy says that they don’t store user messages once they’ve been delivered, and that when they are end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp and third parties can’t read the user messages. Children under 13 are not permitted to use the app at all, according to its policy.

WhatsApp can be accessed through its website, and is available for download at the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use used for this evaluation can be found on WhatsApp’s website, iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. Additionally, other policies used for this evaluation include: Privacy Shield, Cookie and Payments Policies. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Safety

Whatsapp is a messaging service and users provide the service with the phone numbers of WhatsApp users and your other contacts in the user's mobile phone address book on a regular basis. If you are an existing user, you can choose not to have your WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences. The app does not include any content moderation or safety protocols, in fact, the policy notes that user messages are not able to be read by WhatsApp. Their policy explains that they have built privacy, end-to-end encryption, and other security features into WhatsApp.

Privacy

WhatsApp's policy says that they don’t store your messages once they’ve been delivered, and that when the messages are end-to-end encrypted, they and third parties can’t read them. Personal Information collected includes the messages themselves, including chats, photos, videos, voice messages, files, and share location information. Phone numbers and some device information are part of the non-personal information collected. Their policy notes that they may use cookies to remember user choices, such as language preferences, and otherwise to customize our Services for the user. They state that they will collect information about user online and status message changes on WhatsApp Services, such as whether the user is online, when the user last used the Services (the “last seen status”), and when the user last updated their status message. WhatsApp is part of the Facebook family and partners with banks and other third party services to offer user services on their app.

Security

WhatsApp's policy explains that it uses reasonable security, and it appears that an account is required, although passwords are not mentioned. When a user registers to use Payments, they provide their bank’s name and confirm the bank account for use with Payments. The policy explains that WhatsApp messages for the users, and WhatsApp can’t read the messages. Their policy adds that they built privacy, end-to-end encryption, and other security features into WhatsApp. WhatsApp's policy says that they don’t store user messages once they’ve been delivered, and that when they are end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp and third parties can’t read the user messages. There's no discussion of how or whether WhatsApp will notify users of a data breach.

Compliance

WhatsApp is a general-use app, and its policy does not mention students, teachers, or an educational purpose. Children under 13 are not permitted to use the app at all, according to its policy. In some circumstances Whats App's policy explains, WhatsApp will work with its Partners to provide individuals access to personal data about them that WhatsApp holds on behalf of its Partners. Also, WhatsApp indicates that it will also take reasonable steps to enable individuals, either directly or in connection with the Partners, to correct, amend, or delete personal data that is demonstrated to be inaccurate. There's no mention of whether they will delete child personal information, or any discussion of COPPA, FERPA, beyond the contractual consent required of parents to let children under the legal age of contracting consent (usually 18) to use the service.

Overall Score

Every privacy rating includes an overall score. A higher score (up to 100%) means the product provides more transparent privacy policies with better practices to protect user data. The score is best used is as an indicator of how much additional work a person will need to do to make an informed decision about a product.

Basic ScoreFull Score
Comprehensive Assessment6651

Concerns

The privacy evaluation process summarizes the policies of an application or service into concern categories based on a subset of evaluation questions that can be used to quickly identify particular practices of a vendor’s policies. These concerns are composed of evaluation questions that can be used to calculate scores relative to that concern.

ConcernBasic ScoreFull Score
Data Collection: Protecting personal information2550
Data Sharing: Protecting data from third parties10090
Data Security: Protecting against unauthorized access6740
Data Rights: Controlling rights to data8885
Data Sold: Preventing sale of data2520
Data Safety: Promoting responsible use7555
Ads & Tracking: Prohibiting the exploitation of users' decision making process5865
Parental Consent: Protecting children’s personal information5035
School Purpose: Following student data privacy laws5010

Statutes

Each statute or regulation is associated with one or more evaluation questions. As such, we can calculate scores for each statute or regulation using only those questions associated with the statute or regulation. Each specific statute or regulation's score serves as an indirect proxy indicating the likelihood of the application or service satisfying all of its compliance obligations.

StatuteBasic ScoreFull Score
California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)7569
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)6553
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)6142
Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA)6249
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)7557

Privacy Policy Details

1: Transparency

1.1: Policy Version
  • Privacy policies do indicate a version or effective date.
  • Privacy policies indicate a changelog or past policy version is available.
1.2: Policy Notice
  • Users are notified if there are any material changes to the policies.
  • Privacy policies do not indicate the method used to notify a user when policies are updated.
1.3: Policy Changes
  • Users are not notified prior to any material changes to the policies.
  • Changes to the policies are effective immediately and continued use of the product indicates consent.
1.4: Policy Coverage
  • Privacy policies indicate the products that are covered by the policies.
1.5: Policy Contact
  • Users can contact the vendor about any privacy policy questions, complaints, or material changes to the policies.
1.6: Policy Principles
  • Privacy policies do indicate any privacy principles, layered notices, or a table of contents.
1.7: Policy Language
  • Privacy policies are available in multiple languages.
1.8: Intended Use
  • Not intended for children under 13.
  • Unclear whether intended for teens.
  • Intended for adults over 18.
  • Unclear whether intended for parents or guardians.
  • Unclear whether intended for students.
  • Unclear whether intended for teachers.

2: Focused Collection

2.1: Data Collection
  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected.
  • The categories of collected personally identifiable information are indicated.
  • Geolocation data are collected.
  • Biometric or health data are collected.
  • Behavioral data are collected.
  • Sensitive data are collected.
  • Non-personally identifiable information is collected.
  • Unclear whether free or reduced lunch status is collected.
2.2: Data Source
  • Unclear whether personal information or education records are collected from preK-12 students.
  • Personal information from children under 13 years of age is not collected online.
2.3: Data Exclusion
  • Unclear whether specific types of personal information are not collected.
  • Unclear whether specific types of collected information are excluded from the privacy policy.
2.4: Data Limitation
  • Unclear whether the collection or use of data is limited to product requirements.

3: Data Sharing

3.1: Data Shared With Third Parties
  • Collected information is shared with third parties.
  • The categories of information shared with third parties are indicated.
3.2: Data Use by Third Parties
  • The purpose for sharing a user's personal information with third parties is indicated.
  • Data are shared for analytics.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Data are shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
3.3: Data Not Shared With Third Parties
  • Specific categories of information are not shared with third parties.
3.4: Data Sold to Third Parties
  • Unclear whether data are sold or rented to third parties.
3.5: Third-Party Data Acquisition
  • Personal information from users is acquired from third parties.
3.6: Third-Party Links
  • Unclear whether links to third-party external websites are age-appropriate.
3.7: Third-Party Data Access
  • Third parties are authorized to access a user's information.
3.8: Third-Party Data Collection
  • Personal information of users is collected by a third party.
3.9: Third-Party Data Misuse
  • Unclear whether personal information can be deleted from a third party if found to be misused.
3.10: Third-Party Service Providers
  • Data are shared with third-party service providers.
  • The roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
3.11: Third-Party Affiliates
  • The categories of third parties that receive personal information are indicated.
3.12: Third-Party Policies
  • Links to privacy policies of third-party companies are available.
3.13: Third-Party Data Combination
  • Data can be combined with data from third-party sources.
  • Data shared with third parties can be combined by third parties for their own purposes.
3.14: Third-Party Authentication
  • Social or federated login is supported.
  • Personal information from social or federated login providers is collected.
  • Personal Information is shared with social or federated login providers.
3.15: De-identified or Anonymized Data
  • Unclear whether user information is shared in an anonymous or deidentified format.
  • Unclear whether the vendor describes their deidentification process of user information.
3.16: Third-Party Contractual Obligations
  • Contractual limits are placed on third-party data use.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying deidentified information.

4: Respect for Context

4.1: Data Use
  • Unclear whether use of information is limited to the purpose for which it was collected.
  • The purpose for which data atr collected is indicated.
4.2: Data Combination
  • Unclear whether this product treats combined information as personally identifiable information (PII).
4.3: Data Notice
  • Unclear whether notice is provided if the context in which data are collected changes.
4.4: Data Changes
  • Unclear whether consent is obtained if the practices in which data are collected change.
4.5: Policy Enforcement
  • Accounts may be terminated if users engage in any prohibited activities.

5: Individual Control

5.1: User Content
  • Users can create or upload content.
5.2: User Consent
  • Opt-in consent is not requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
5.3: Remedy Process
  • Unclear whether a grievance or remedy mechanism is available for users to file a complaint.
5.4: Data Settings
  • Users can control their information through privacy settings.
5.5: Data Disclosure
  • Users can opt out from the disclosure or sale of their data to a third party.
  • Users can request to know what personal information has been shared with third parties for commercial purposes.
  • Unclear whether notice is provided in the event the vendor receives a government or legal request for a user’s information.
5.6: Intellectual Property
  • Users retain ownership of their data.
  • A copyright license is claimed to data or content collected from a user.
  • Any copyright license to a user's data is limited in scope or duration.
  • Unclear whether notice is provided to users when their content is removed or disabled because of an alleged copyright violation.

6: Access and Accuracy

6.1: Data Access
  • Processes to access and review user data are available.
  • Permissions, roles, or access controls are available to restrict who has access to data.
  • Processes to review data are available for the school, parents, or students.
6.2: Data Integrity
  • The vendor does not maintain the accuracy of data they collect.
6.3: Data Correction
  • Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
  • Processes for the school, parents, or students to modify data are available.
  • Unclear whether the time period for the vendor to modify inaccurate data is indicated.
6.4: Data Retention
  • A data-retention policy is available.
  • The retention time period of a user's data can be changed upon a valid inspection request.
6.5: Data Deletion
  • Data are deleted when no longer necessary.
  • A user's data are deleted upon account cancellation or termination.
  • Processes to delete user data are available.
  • Processes for the school, parents, or students to delete data are available.
  • Unclear whether the time period for the vendor to delete data is indicated.
6.6: Data Portability
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to download their data.
  • Unclear whether a user can assign an authorized account manager or legacy contact.

7: Data Transfer

7.1: Data Handling
  • User information can be transferred to a third party.
  • Notice is provided to users if the vendor assigns its rights or delegates its duties to another company.
  • Unclear whether users are notified if their information is transferred to a third party.
7.2: Transfer Request
  • Unclear whether user information can be deleted prior to its transfer to a third party.
7.3: Onward Contractual Obligations
  • Unclear whether third-party transfers are contractually required to use the same privacy practices.

8: Security

8.1: User Identity
  • Unclear whether a user's identity is verified with additional personal information.
8.2: User Account
  • Account creation is required.
  • Unclear whether parental controls or managed accounts are available.
  • Unclear whether two-factor account protection is available.
8.3: Third-Party Security
  • Unclear whether third-party contractual security protections are required.
8.4: Data Confidentiality
  • Industry best practices are used to protect data.
  • Unclear whether this product limits employee or physical access to user information.
8.5: Data Transmission
  • All data in transit are encrypted.
8.6: Data Storage
  • All data at rest are encrypted.
  • Personal information of users is stored with a third party.
8.7: Data Breach
  • Unclear whether this product provides notice in the event of a data breach.
8.8: Data Oversight
  • Unclear whether this product performs data-privacy and security-compliance audits.

9: Responsible Use

9.1: Social Interactions
  • Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
  • Unclear whether users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information is not shared for social interactions.
9.2: Data Visibility
  • Personal information is not displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed.
9.3: Monitor and Review
  • User-created content is not reviewed, screened, or monitored by the vendor.
  • User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
  • Social interactions between users are not moderated.
  • Unclear whether social interactions of users are logged.
9.4: Report Content
  • Unclear whether users can filter or block inappropriate content.
  • Unclear whether users can report abuse or cyberbullying.
9.5: Internet Safety
  • Unclear whether the vendor provides links to tools or processes that support safe and appropriate social interactions.

10: Advertising

10.1: Vendor Communications
  • A user can receive service- or administrative-related communications from the vendor.
10.2: Traditional Advertising
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are not displayed.
10.3: Behavioral Advertising
  • Behavioral or targeted advertising is displayed.
10.4: Ad Tracking
  • Data are collected by third-party advertising or tracking services.
  • Data are used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for data enhancement, and/or targeted advertisements.
10.5: Filtered Advertising
  • Unclear whether children may receive inappropriate advertisements.
10.6: Marketing Communications
  • The vendor can send marketing messages.
  • The vendor does provide promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
10.7: Unsubscribe
  • Users can opt out of traditional, contextual, or behavioral advertising.
  • Users can opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
10.8: Do Not Track
  • Unclear whether this product responds to Do Not Track or other opt-out mechanisms.
  • Unclear whether the vendor provides a method for users to opt-out from third-party tracking.

11: Compliance

11.1: Children Under 13
  • Vendor does not have actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • Unclear whether children's privacy is applicable.
  • Account creation is restricted for users under 13 years of age.
  • Unclear whether this product restricts in-app purchases for users under 13 years of age.
  • Unclear whether the vendor participates in an FTC-approved COPPA safe harbor program.
11.2: Students in K–12
  • Product is not primarily used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades preK–12.
  • Unclear whether the product creates education records.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notification of a contract or additional rights.
  • Unclear whether this product designates the vendor as a school official.
11.3: Parental Consent
  • Parental consent is not required.
  • Unclear whether this product limits parental consent with respect to third parties.
  • Unclear whether this product allows parents to withdraw consent for the further collection of their child's information.
  • Unclear whether this product deletes children's personal information if collected without parental consent.
  • Unclear whether this product provides parental consent notice and method for submission.
  • Unclear whether the vendor can use collected information to support the “internal operations” of the product.
  • Unclear whether this product indicates COPPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether the vendor indicates FERPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether this product discloses directory information.
  • Unclear whether this product transfers parental consent obligations to the school or district.
11.4: Legal Requirements
  • The legal jurisdiction that applies to the laws governing any dispute is indicated.
  • A user is required to waive the right to a jury trial, or settle any disputes by arbitration.
  • A user is required to waive the right to join a class action lawsuit.
  • A vendor will disclose personal information to law enforcement.
11.5: Certification
  • Unclear whether the vendor has signed a privacy pledge or received a privacy certification.
11.6: International Laws
  • A user's data are subject to International data transfer or jurisdiction laws, such as the GDPR.
  • The vendor has indicated it is a Data Controller or Data Processor.