Middle East

WhatsApp says it is still discussing data collection update in Turkey

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The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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ISTANBUL, May 21 (Reuters) - The messaging app WhatsApp said on Friday it was still discussing the rollout of an update in Turkey, despite a statement from Turkey's Competition Board saying the update would not be issued.

WhatsApp updated its terms of service in January, saying it was reserving the right of its owner Facebook Inc (FB.O) and its subsidiaries to collect user data such as phone numbers and locations. This triggered a backlash in Turkey and a probe by the Competition Board. read more

"It is not the case that we no longer intend to roll out the update in Turkey. We continue to discuss next steps with the relevant authorities and we remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone," WhatsApp said.

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It said the update did not expand its ability to share data with Facebook or affect the privacy of personal messages with friends or family.

"We continue to roll out our update gradually around the world and the majority of people who have received it have accepted," WhatsApp added.

Earlier on Friday, the Competition Board had said WhatsApp had informed it that the update in question involving data sharing would not be imposed on any users in Turkey, including those who already approved it.

WhatsApp's move had caused many to migrate to other messaging apps such as Turkey's domestic BiP, a unit of Turkcell, or Signal or Telegram.

Turkey's government has imposed new restrictions and fines on social media companies since a law was passed in July that it says bolsters local oversight of the foreign firms. Critics say the law stifles dissent from Turks who have moved to online platforms since the government tightened its grip on mainstream media.

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Reporting by Ebru Tuncay; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler, William Maclean

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