WhatsApp privacy policy: company offers clarifications over circulating claims

WhatsApp privacy policy: company offers clarifications over circulating claims

WhatsApp privacy policy: Past few days have emerged quite controversial for global chatting app WhatsApp led by the latest policy update which has brought it in middle of a storm. According to the update, further data sharing will be carried out with its parent company Facebook. Users have been given a deadline of accepting all the terms and conditions of the new policy by February 8, 2021 or else their accounts would be deactivated. This has led to a sparked exodus to other apps like Telegram and Signal.

There have been zillion claims circulating, ironically on WhatsApp, that are creating confusion and zero transparency into the exact whereabouts of the new policy. Furthermore, the fact that the organization is imposing a “full or void” formula to the policy acceptance rendering that users have no choice in accepting the policies has led to quite a rebuke and exodus from vastly popular chatting platform. But now the messenger app has clarified the move by sharing an explanation over its “data sharing clause” in the updated terms and conditions. 

The updated version of WhatsApp Terms and Conditions says, “As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information with the other Facebook Companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products.” 

In recent official statement by WhatsApp in an attempt to offer some clarification into the controversy, the Facebook owned messenger app said that data sharing with Facebook would not change. It also said that starting February 8, 2021, data sharing will take place between Facebook Business and WhatsApp Business accounts. It clarified that the platform for those using it for instant messaging would not be affected. 

The statement clarifies that dealing of personal chats will not change and it will continue to be end-to-end encrypted. This means that no third-party can read the chats. WhatsApp policy adds, “We do not retain your messages in the ordinary course of providing our Services to you. Instead, your messages are stored on your device and not typically stored on our servers. Once your messages are delivered, they are deleted from our servers.”

Regarding sharing location with Facebook, WhatsApp said that only approximate location information would be shared with the parent company. It also said that location when shared on the app, it would only be protected between sender and receiver, and is not transmitted to Facebook. 

WhatsApp also made it clear that it does not record, or listen to audio and/ or video calls made through it. Data of these calls remains end-to-end encrypted and thus secure, just like the text messages. 

Though WhatsApp has tried to clear the air and clarify misconceptions, the main hurdle in way of the app remains lack of trust and confidence with Facebook, its parent company. When it comes to data sharing with Facebook, only European Union has clear laws that exempt WhatsApp from doing so. As for the other nations, there are two choices for WhatsApp users. First is to continue using the platform and hope for new laws regarding data protection to be implemented in their country. Second is clear, and unsurprisingly looking at current exodus from the platform, is to switch to another platform that is not keen on data collection. 

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