Consumer protectionWhatsApp is required to provide terms and conditions in German

The Berlin Court of Appeal has granted a legal complaint by the Federation of German Consumer Associations (vzbv) against the US messenger service WhatsApp. With this, WhatsApp can no longer provide its terms and conditions on the German website exclusively in English. The Court granted the complaint based on the following considerations:

  • Even though everyday English is common among the German population, legal, contractual and commercial English is not and moreover cannot be expected from German consumers.
  • As long as these terms and conditions are not available in German, all clauses lack transparency and are thus void.
  • The judges also criticized a violation of the telecommunication media act. WhatsApp does not offer a second option to be contacted rapidly (i.e. contact form or telephone number) besides an email address. However, it is legally obliged to do so.

If the ruling becomes legally binding, WhatsApp will have to provide a German version of its terms of use and privacy policy. An appeal against this judgment was dismissed by the court. Klaus Müller, director of vzbv, commented on the ruling as follows: “Frequently, terms and conditions are already long and hard to comprehend for consumers. The fact that millions of German WhatsApp users do not have to put up with these terms in yet a foreign language, sends a critical signal to other internationally operating companies.”

Source: vzbv

More information and the judgement