In India alone, “WhatsApp” had reached over 400 million users by the end of year 2019. And it is said to have the largest penetration with an average of about 80 billion messages per day. Over a tenth of this subscription can be estimated to be users below the age of 13 years. India has about 500 million smartphone users and hence this figure of 400 million cannot be grossly wrong.
In April 2018, the European Union, envisaging a backlash and opposition from parents, and had to increased the permissible for registration and usage of the WhatsApp application from 13 years (that was default offered by the company) to 16 years. European Union by a regulation introduced a ban on under-16s user from using the Facebooks’ platform. India did not follow the stipulation and had by default allowed users above 13 years of age to register and use the App.
“If you live in a country or territory listed below (which includes countries in the European Union), your WhatsApp services are provided by WhatsApp Ireland Limited, which is also the data controller responsible for your information when you use our services: Andorra, Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Réunion, Romania, San Marino, Saint Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United Kingdom sovereign bases in Cyprus (Akrotiri and Dhekelia), and Vatican City.” States WhatsApp ‘Terms and Conditions’ Page.
“If you don’t live in one of the countries or territories listed above, your WhatsApp services are provided by WhatsApp Inc., which is also the data controller responsible for your information when you use our services.” Quotes the Official Page of WhatsApp. Facebook also allows children above 13 years of age to register and use WhatsApp application.
WhatsApp also quotes “If you live in any other country except those in the European Region, you must be at least 13 years old (or such greater age required in your country) to register for and use WhatsApp.”:- hence it is clear that countries can enact laws to restrict usage for children below a particular age. Should India also follow cue to bring in an age stipulation. We at CYBER SECURE INDIA, are of the opinion that a regulation is essential and necessary directions to Facebook is essential to raise the age of permissibly to 16 years from the present 13 years.