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WhatsApp users face being blocked if they fail to accept new terms of service

The updated plans will allow businesses to easily communicate with WhatsApp users

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

WhatsApp users will have to accept new privacy policy rules from this weekend or face being blocked from using the instant messaging platform.

Despite resistance from users and millions migrating to rival messaging firms, WhatsApp is finally forcing users to accept its controversial new terms of service, almost half a year after it first announced plans to do so.

Although a ‘soft’ deadline of May 15th was put in place for users to agree to a controversial security update, people will not be cut off from the service immediately for not agreeing to the new terms.

However, they will be hit by persistent pop-up reminders.

The updated plans will allow businesses to easily communicate with WhatsApp users.

The company had intended to put the new terms into effect in February but faced a backlash over concerns about increased data sharing with its parent company, Facebook.

Facebook has insisted this is not the case as WhatsApp's privacy and security will "never change."

Since they were announced, in January, there has been concern about the prospect of increased data sharing with WhatsApp's parent company, Facebook.

Adrian Weckler, the technology correspondent for the Irish Independent, says people will instead be blocked from the app on a phased basis.

He said: "To start with, you'll start to see messages saying that you haven't agreed and you must agree."

Newstalk's technology correspondent Jess Kelly, speaking on The Hard Shoulder this week, added: "From Saturday, if you don't hit accept on that annoying little pop-up that's probably been popping up on your phone over the last little while, you won't be able to get access to your messages," she said.

"You'll see that I have WhatsApped you but you won't be able to read that message.

"You're going to see that messages are coming in but you won't be able to read them, it's an absolute pain in the face.

"There's an awful lot of fearmongering around this, people are saying Facebook is doing this to enable them to see your messages or to target your ads, that is not the case.

"To clear this up, WhatsApp does end-to-end encryption, that means when I message you on WhatsApp, nobody outside you or I can read those messages, even if Facebook wanted to, they wouldn't be able to see them."

Jess said the update will encourage Facebook users wanting to contact a small business with their number listed on the social platform to do so through WhatsApp.

"Rather than you tapping out the number, you should be able to hit the WhatsApp icon and chat with them," she explained.

"There is no onus on you to do that if you don't want to, you're not going to get business contacting you on WhatsApp asking you to buy stuff from them.

"This is a great tool from the businesses point of view, but I understand and appreciate why some people would be uncomfortable with it."

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