California-based WhatsApp said on Jan. 4 it reserved the right to share some data including location and phone number with Facebook and its units such as Instagram and Messenger.

That triggered outrage, including in its biggest market India where it has 400 million users.

In India, many users have begun installing rival apps like Signal and Telegram, pushing WhatsApp to begin a costly advertising campaign to calm customers.WhatsApp has given users a Feb. 8 deadline to agree to the new terms.

Amid continuing concerns over its new privacy policy released a few days ago, WhatsApp on Tuesday had to clarify yet again that the policy changes nothing for those messaging friends and
family. It also clarified that in some conditions, business messages — “different than messaging with your family or friends” — can be read by Facebook and could be used for marketing purposes.
🔴Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can “see your private messages or hear your calls”. Personal
messages are protected by end-to-end encryption and will continue to be so.
🔴WhatsApp does not keep logs of who anyone is messaging or calling because it considers a
data dump of this kinda “privacy and security risk”.
🔴WhatsApp cannot see a location you have shared with a friend as that too is
protected by end-to-end encryption.
🔴WhatsApp does not share a user’s contacts with Facebook, or any other app.

🔴No data from groups will be shared with Facebook for ad purposes and all the communication
within is end-to-end encrypted. So, if you are a member of an office, RWA, or school group,there is nothing to worry about as nothing changes for you.

How are business messages different?
The interplay between WhatsApp and Facebook, its parent company, becomes more visible when it comes to messages to business, where the new privacy changes have been applied.
WhatsApp has clarified that some “large businesses” might need to use “secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts”. And “whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook”. But, WhatsApp says it will “clearly label conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook”.
These labels are already visible when you are communicating with a business, and users will
now need to decide whether they want to be in a conversation, the details of which could be used
to show them targeted ads. Using the Shops features on WhatsApp could also open up your
preferences for targeted ads on other Facebook products such as Instagram. So clearly, business messaging, which WhatsApp has been gradually activating across many markets, will ultimately result in advertisements based on preferences you have shown to the business.
If you use WhatsApp for a business and have a list of clients, the business on the other side too will see the conversation and know your preferences. This could be used to show you ads on
Facebook platforms. If you are a business owner, you could use some of the insights to run ads targeting your customers on Facebook and other services.

What changes for you in these scenarios?
IF YOU ARE ON FACEBOOK: Nothing changes when it comes to personal chats. However, if you are engaged in conversations with a business, you might start seeing related ads on Facebook and other company products such as Instagram.

… OR IF YOU ARE NOT: Nothing changes for you as a WhatsApp user, as you cannot be shown ads on Facebook.
IF YOU HAVE A LARGE FOLLOWING: WhatsApp remains a secure platform for all your personal conversations with individuals and groups. However, it might be a good idea to be
cautious while using the business features as many people could have access to your preferences.
… OR IF YOU DO NOT: Your regular WhatsApp conversations remain safe and end-to-end encrypted.
Which countries have a different policy?
While there is data sharing with Facebook even in the European Union, users there get more control. That’s because the EU has a different privacy policy on any software product compared
to the rest of the world. EU’s General Data

Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the strictest in the world and ensures that consumers have the full rights to their data and how that data is processed, and can even demand erasure of
information. According to WhatsApp’s own policy for the EU, consumers have “the right to access, rectify, port,
and erase your information, as well as the right to restrict and object to certain processing of your
information.”

While the WhatsApp privacy policy in the EU also talks about data sharing with Facebook, consumers there get a special setting called “Managing and Retaining Your Information”, with
which they can rectify, update or erase information that the platform controls. This option is not available elsewhere. Consumers in the EU can even withdraw their consent to WhatsApp for processing of data, thanks to GDPR.
Interestingly, after the EU antitrust authorities in 2017 fined Facebook 110 million euros for misleading regulators during a 2014 review of the WhatsApp takeover, the social network had
told these regulators it technically wasn’t possible to combine WhatsApp data with its other services.

So, why doesn’t India get such a setting with extensive controls?
India lacks a regulatory authority. Until the Personal Data Protection Bill becomes law, it will be hard to police tech companies on how user data should be processed.
WhatsApp’s new privacy policy applies to every country, including the US, and users will have to accept the terms and conditions to continue using the service.
How does one read the update in the context of the regulatory scrutiny Facebook faces in the US
and EU?
The regulatory heat makes the timing of this update interesting. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Facebook over antitrust, anti-competitive policies.
It has also put Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram under the scanner.
These two apps have helped Facebook dominate the social media and messaging space in the last five years. If the FTC wins its cases, it wants Facebook to sell off both WhatsApp and Instagram, which could prove disastrous for the company.
Further, it would mean that Zuckerberg’s vision of interoperability among other apps in the bouquet would come to an end. In his scheme of things, a WhatsApp user should be able to
message someone on Messenger, even if they don’t use that app. This interoperability will be limited to Facebook’s own set of products.
The EU is also investigating Facebook over claims that it trampled competition with the help of the vast troves of user data. The company has resisted EU’s demands for several documents and
filed a lawsuit against this last year as well. Supreme Court issues notices to Facebook, WhatsApp over new privacy policy

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices and sought responses from WhatsApp, Facebook, and the central government in a matter concerning the instant messaging app’s new privacy policy.

Referring to Facebook and the messaging platform owned by it, a bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said they may be $2-3 trillion companies, but people value their privacy more than money and that it is the court’s duty to protect user privacy.

The government, which had written to WhatsApp last month to withdraw the proposed changes to its privacy rules and had sought clarifications on a set of queries from it, told the court that the companies can’t share data of users which must be protected.

WhatsApp and Facebook did not respond to emails seeking comment on the new privacy policy and the company’s response to queries raised by the government. Following a user uproar, WhatsApp said on January 15 that it was moving back the
date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. The previous deadline was February 8.

Facebook Comments