By SUZAN FRASER and KELVIN CHAN, Associated Press
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – The Turkish competition watchdog said Friday that WhatsApp said the chat app would not apply a controversial privacy update following an investigation. However, the announcement was refuted by Facebook’s own app, which continues to plan to roll out the update to Turkish users.
The changes were originally announced earlier this year but were delayed after a backlash sparked by a wave of confusion and misinformation among users, including those in Turkey. Users were given a May 15 deadline to agree to the update.
Turkish users, concerned about the possible leakage of their personal information, began to download alternative messaging applications such as Signal, Telegram or the Turkish app Bip developed by the mobile operator Turkcell. Many chose to close their WhatsApp accounts despite the messaging app ensuring that the content of messages remains encrypted.
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The Turkish competition body had meanwhile launched an investigation into Facebook and WhatsApp for a possible violation of Article 6 of the Turkish competition law, which prevents companies from “abusing their dominant positions”.
In a brief statement on Friday, the competition watchdog said WhatsApp had announced that the update “will not come into effect for any user in Turkey, including those who have approved it”.
However, WhatsApp denied the Turkish announcement.
“It is not that we no longer intend to roll out the update in Turkey,” it said in a statement. “We continue to discuss the next steps with the relevant authorities and remain committed to providing secure and private communications for everyone.” . â
WhatsApp insisted that the update “does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook and does not affect the privacy of personal messages with friends or family”.
“We are continuing to roll out our update gradually around the world and the majority of those who have received it have accepted it,” it said. The company previously indicated that the update only applies to corporate-customer communications.
A week ago, a German data protection officer issued an emergency decision prohibiting Facebook from collecting data about WhatsApp users because the updated directive violated strict European data protection regulations.
Chan reported from London
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