After backlash, WhatsApp clarifies its new privacy policy

After backlash, WhatsApp clarifies its new privacy policy

Agencies 1/12/2021


NEW DELHI: After facing severe backlash over its new privacy policy and terms of service, WhatsApp has clarified this move does not affect the privacy of user’s personal messages with their friends or family.


“This update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” the Facebook-owned messaging app said.



What data is not shared with Facebook


WhatsApp/Facebook cannot see the user’s private messages, group messages, or hear calls with their friends, family, and co-workers, since it is protected by end-to-end encryption.


It doesn’t keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling.


It can’t see locations users share with others.


The app doesn’t share the user’s contact lists with Facebook’s family of apps.


It doesn’t share group data with Facebook for ads purposes.


Apart from this, one can also set their messages to disappear after seven days as well as download their user data to see what information WhatsApp has on them, from within the app.


What data will WhatsApp share to Facebook


WhatsApp said it will share data related to how one interacts with a business on its app and these conversations will be clearly labelled. It will soon provide businesses with an option to use Facebook’s hosting infrastructure to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions and send information like purchase receipts. Businesses may use this information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook, the company said.


If a user shops from a business from within the app, using Facebook-branded commerce features, their shopping activity will be used to personalize their commerce experience and the ads they see on Facebook and Instagram. WhatsApp, however, noted these features will be optional and users will be informed how their data is being shared with Facebook within the app.


Facebook allows businesses to create ads that will enable users to message them on WhatsApp. The company said it may use the way users interact with them to personalize ads they see on Facebook.


Backlash against the privacy policy


WhatsApp had unveiled a new privacy policy and terms of service last week, in a bid to share significantly more commercial user data with parent Facebook. Those who do not accept the updated privacy policy, which comes into force in February, will no longer be able to access the chats on the messaging platform, according to alerts being sent to users in India since early last week.


This had raised hackles among privacy experts, antitrust and cybersecurity advocates, who have long warned against data pooling among big technology firms.