The new policy majorly tries to provide a bit of clarity on how it will use the user data and share the same with other group companies or third parties. Let us look at each aspect one by one.
- What all user data are collected by WhatsApp
- How WhatsApp store, process and share the user data
- How businesses can use Facebook Hosted Services to store and manage their WhatsApp chat
- Providing a way for integrations across the Facebook company products and services
What all user data are collected by WhatsApp?
It means WhatsApp knows exactly what you are doing, from where and how you use your device with other Facebook Company product and Services. WhatsApp is not a tracking app but it can track your every move even when you are not connected to GPS as it can still use your connection information to find your City, State and Country.
What happens if you do not give location access to WhatsApp?
How our interaction with a business is handled?
If you are a user of WhatsApp business, or interact with any business using WhatsApp then you should be aware about these policy changes that are going to be effective from 8th February 2021.
- Businesses you interact with using WhatsApp can provide your information to WhatsApp as per applicable laws
- When you message a business on WhatsApp, the content is visible to several people in that business.
- Businesses can give your information to their third-party service providers depending on their business need and WhatsApp will not have a control on the same.
How WhatsApp handle payment transactions?
How WhatsApp store, process and share the user data?
WhatsApp is now a Facebook company and it clearly states that it can transfer, transmit or store your data across its global data centres, including those are in the US or countries or territories where the Facebook Companies’ affiliates and partners, or where their service providers are located, or any other country or territory globally.
Sharing of user data
What if I do not accept the policy?
WhatsApp have clearly set a timeline till 8th of February 2021 to accept the new policy otherwise you will have to lose access to the platform. If you have pressed the button Not Now, there is no second choice apart from accepting the same if you wish to continue using WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business.
What if I delete my WhatsApp account?
If you choose not to accept the new changes and made your mind to delete your WhatsApp account, please be careful while doing so as WhatsApp still have some sensitive information about you with them.
- When you remove WhatsApp from your account, it does not guarantee complete deletion of your info as copy of your chats and other info can also be with other active users.
- WhatsApp also suggest you to use the in-app delete my account feature to delete your account or else WhatsApp will still store your information with them.
It warns that, “Be mindful that if you only delete WhatsApp from your device without using our in-app delete my account feature, your information will be stored with us for a longer period. Please remember that when you delete your account, it does not affect your information related to the groups you created or the information other users have relating to you, such as their copy of the messages you sent them.”
It is suggested to first delete all your interaction in groups, leave all the groups and then use the in-app delete account feature to somewhat securely remove all your information from the platform.
Some unanswered questions
As a user we will not gain any real benefit out of these changes apart from being more exposed to in the Internet World. Some really concerning questions to be answered can be,
- How Facebook as a parent company will ensure third parties do not misuse the user data?
- How can be the safety of the data can be guaranteed that are laying with other businesses or third parties?
- How these new policies will enhance the user experience?
- What will happen to the end-to-end encryption that is being guaranteed?
- WhatsApp always said that they can only have access to your chats, images, videos, calls or recording only for a fraction of second that it takes their servers to transmit to the intended users in a encrypted format, but there is no clarity provided on how the user data being shared in the background apart from chat text, calls or recordings are being encrypted?
- How data from Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are combined to give the user a seamless experience?
What are some of the alternatives to use?
What is Indian Governments views on the update?
In India we lack independent third-party assessment regarding what and how much data is being used. We also do not have a clear policy like GDPR on handling of user consent. Facebook was also being probed in India apart from the US and other counties. Facebook has yet to respond to the joint parliamentary committee’s questions regarding its practice. On Indian government part its harder without a set national policy to ascertain where the problem of data sharing stands with such Internet giants.
While there are many questions to be answered, WhatsApp have left its 400+ million Indian user base to take a decision whether to continue using the platform or not. It is also not the first time that WhatsApp have made its policy changes, but this major change really raises eyebrows on how secure we are while using such platforms on Internet. It is now up to individual users to decide what to do we will continue to raise questions to be answered.