Monday, August 8, 2022

WhatsApp makes data sharing mandatory; raises privacy concerns

WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy and terms of service have now made it mandatory for the app users to share some of their crucial data with Facebook. Amongst other things, it includes the sharing of device information, transaction data, and IP address with the parent company. Furthermore, access to WhatsApp services will be denied to those users who do not accept the change in terms by February 8, 2020, as per the notification.

The notification for updated terms was received by millions of Indians on 6th January 2021, Wednesday, as a part of their global roll-out strategy. The notification included key updates to WhatsApp’s service policy and the processing of data. It conveyed how WhatsApp would be partnering with Facebook to offer integrations across Facebook Company Products as well as how businesses can manage their WhatsApp chats through Facebook hosted services. The latter feature primarily targets third-party service providers by making advanced features available at their disposal.

Despite having an end-to-end encryption policy for chats, WhatsApp is engaged in collecting a large amount of data from its users. This includes location information of the user, despite the settings being turned off and device and usage log which directs WhatsApp’s profile picture, status, and chat groups. The updated policy mandates for this data to be shared with Facebook.

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Earlier the users were provided with an option to refuse having their account information shared with Facebook, however with the mandatory policy in place, this option will now cease to exist. This strategy employed by WhatsApp has raised several concerns when it comes to the privacy of the app users.

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