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What’s new with the WhatsApp Policy? What really changed and Why we should worry?

WhatsApp has been a subsidiary of Facebook since 2014.

WhatsApp announced its new changes to their terms of services (ToS) starting February 8th. Users will have to agree to their changes or they will not be able to use the WhatsApp application. The last such change happened on January 4th 2021. Let me answer few questions that keep coming to our minds:

1. Why did WhatsApp do these changes?

Facebook Inc has been working to integrate the services across their platforms like FB Messenger, Instagram & WhatsApp for quite some time. This was a part of their announcement which was made on October 2020. As we know that Instagram and Facebook are already integrated and now it’s the time for the WhatsApp to be a part of this combination. The new terms of services (ToS) explain how the commerce can use their WhatsApp for B2B/B2C discussions. WhatsApp is also pushing their UPI payment options and Facebook would like to touch that data. This initiative could have been rolled out in a hurry to anticipate developments in the landmark anti-trust case. US Federal Trade Commission and multiple US states have remarkably sued Facebook for this monopolist comportment. And one of the major demands is that Instagram and WhatsApp be delinked from Facebook. Now this integration will be a complete deal for the company.

2. What does it mean to everyone?

Privacy is surely impacted even more. We know that WhatsApp already holds some data about you and so does the Facebook. This data is in a different storage tower and if this talks to each other, the company will know more about you. And from February 8th, the Facebook will be able to get the exact location data if we provide WhatsApp permission to use so. Facebook will now have the ability to compare our contacts on WhatsApp, the conversations and the WhatsApp groups that we belong to and then compare this with the Facebook data activity. Once the payment services is integrated, FB will be able to associate the bank account and card information that WhatsApp would pick up.

3. What date can they share?

ToS dictates “We collect information about your activity on our services, like Service-related, diagnostics, and performance information. This also includes WhatsApp service settings, user interactions, time, frequency and duration of activity; log files and diagnostic logs, cookies, etc., This would also include your information about when you registered your services, features that you like during conversations, calling, status, groups, payment and business information, profile picture, online status activity, last used data. For better understanding, you can go through their privacy policy in detail.

Privacy Policy (whatsapp.com)

  1. Is this a concern and Why?

Yes, of course. Data is everywhere and when this data is integrated together, lot of information can be revealed

  1. Does that mean, WhatsApp chat is no longer encrypted.

Technically speaking, WhatsApp conversations remain end-end encrypted. The real problem comes when the data sharing expansion gives a way to possible leakage of information. Suppose, if we are using this private conversation option on WhatsApp, this will have to stop or be aware that the information is no more private.

  1. What happens if I don’t agree with their new policy?

Well, there are dual options, either you exit WhatsApp or comply with their ToS. If you are rough about this and quitting is tough, you can consider migration to another similar apps. You can also keep a dedicated connection for your WhatsApp that you use for nothing. One other option is to advice the groups to switch.

7. Are there any Alternate apps that I can explore?

Signal has been a best alternative as it is the most secure and has this wonderful option to migrate groups very easily. However, Signal has limited features and colour schemes and users will have to play with the user interface to understand it better.

Similarly, Telegram is another app that comes closer to WhatsApp, but has a Russian origin.

Tech enthusiast and passionate in Security technologies.