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Data Privacy Concern over WhatsApp’s new policy

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Data Privacy Concern over WhatsApp’s new policy

The ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) is taking a close look at an encrypted messaging app WhatsApp’s new privacy policy wherein it will be sharing commercial user data with Facebook.

The ministry’s concerns emanate from the fact that so far entities like Facebook, etc, maintained the stance that they do not share user data with anybody. The basic definition of intermediaries is that they do not own content and are mere platforms where third-party entities place content.

This particular status prevents them from liability in case anything unlawful is noticed on their platforms. In such instances, the government directs the intermediary concerned to remove the unlawful content within a specified period of time.

If you use WhatsApp, you probably spotted a pop-up on your phone sometime in the last 24 hours, suggesting that the service has updated its privacy policy and promptly clicked the button at the bottom to proceed.

If you read more closely, you’ll have learned that and users have until February 8 to read and agree to the new terms. Failure to do so would lead to WhatsApp deleting your account. Just to be clear, you can accept these terms again to revive your account.

You’re probably not the only one who may have skipped reading the new terms. However, changes in the privacy policy of a chat app with more than 2 billion users are noteworthy. 

The high-level theme of this new policy is to integrate better with Facebook‘s family of products, grant leeway for increased interaction with businesses, and gather financial data from users.

The app collects a lot of metadata related to the account such as the phone number, your profile picture, your usage patterns and device data. The updated policy says that WhatsApp may send you marketing material about Facebook companies.

Plus, the firm will use your data collected from the app and other Facebook services for content suggestions, people recommendations, and ads along with service improvements. For instance, WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy guidelines won’t be applicable if you live in the European Region thanks to the data protection law in place there.

WhatsApp is legally bound to not share data with Facebook in the European Region because it’s a contravention of the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), 

WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy, which was made known on January 4, essentially takes away the choice users had until now to not share their data with other Facebook-owned and third-party apps. If users do not agree with the updated privacy policy of the messaging platform, they will have to quit WhatsApp by February 8 – when the new terms of service are set to come into effect.

Had the data protection law or regulation been in place, this issue would not have arisen in the first place,

 However, among communities of people who have a higher degree of awareness about data protection and privacy, this shift is already perceptible. Signal, iMessage and Telegram are safer alternatives when it comes to messaging platforms, experts said. A running app which has over 2 billions of active users will not do that it is totally unacceptable.

We really not accept this update fix it as soon as possible.

Submitted by Ujala Fatima Saudagar, Date 21 January 2021.

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