WhatsApp really, really wants to access all of your #contacts, and not just those who use the platform. According to their terms of service, users “provide the phone numbers of #WhatsApp users and your other contacts in your #mobile phone #address book on a regular basis. You confirm you are authorised to provide us such numbers to allow us to provide our services.”
Technically, you can refuse access, but WhatsApp will reprimand you by not showing any of the names of your message threads – pretty annoying for a #messenger platform – and will prevent you from making calls or starting group #messages or broadcasts.
If you do allow it access, WhatsApp will be able to read the information of everyone from your gynaecologist to your dealer. There’s ongoing debate as to whether or not this is even #legal under The #EU’s General Data Protection Regulation #GDPR, which forbids the sharing of personal #data without consent. Say you know someone who doesn’t use WhatsApp, but is saved as a contact in your phone. Their #phone number is shared with WhatsApp, without their #consent.