What’s new in the WhatsApp Privacy Policy?

What’s new in the WhatsApp Privacy Policy?

Experts fear that the new WhatsApp policy will integrate Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to give a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity, with a high level of insight into a person’s private and personal activities. This could be dangerous without any government oversight and in the absence of a data protection authority.

So, should you delete WhatsApp? Can your messages be accessed? Is it no longer safe?  
Here are the key details which will help you make an informed decision.

No Choice
The new policy 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 when the new terms of service are set to come into effect.

End-to-end encryption
Personal chats still remain end-to-end encrypted, i.e., nobody can read your messages.
They still remain private.

However, if you chat with a business account, then the content you share with that business may be visible to several people in the company. They can access that message history, save it and use it to their advantage.

For example, if you order a product and provide your bank details to a business account and later, the company faces a data leak. This could be a reason for you to worry.

What data is being shared with Facebook?
WhatsApp would share the following details:
Hardware model, operating system information, battery Level, App version, browser information, signal strength, Profile picture, status, your name, your contacts and their profile pictures, Network Connection Information, Phone Number, Mobile Operator, Language Time Zone, IP Address ( Location)

Data sharing with third-party apps
WhatsApp will share information not just with Facebook but globally. The data will be shared both internally within the Facebook Companies and externally with its partners and service providers.
Moreover, WhatsApp will have the right to transfer, transmit, store or process info in the United States or any other country or territory where the Facebook Companies’ affiliates and partners are located.

Creating a backdoor for agencies to spy
The fact that made WhatsApp secure was that no data was stored. Hence, there was nothing to worry. However, with the new policy in place government agencies will be able to request access to the stored data and spy on the citizens. This data can also be misused during elections or for other political agendas.

This happens only in India
WhatsApp is legally bound to not share data with Facebook in the European Region because of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is a well-defined law with provisions of hefty penalties which puts an obligation on businesses and service providers to collect only essential information which is absolutely necessary to provide services, whereas in India current laws lack clarity and enforcement mechanism.

In GDPR, the punishment is to the extent of fine of Euros 20 million or 4% of the annual global turnover of the company whereas, in India, compensation is claimed under Section 43A of IT Act,2000 and  the user has to prove that their data has been collected without due permission and misused.

There is currently a regulatory vacuum with respect to data privacy and protection legislation in India. The Data Protection legislation has been pending for a while now resulting in Indian citizens being vulnerable to misuse of their data.

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