What’s With WhatsApp And Its Latest Privacy Policy?

What's With WhatsApp And Its Latest Privacy Policy?

Remember that you use iCloud or Google Drive to backup your WhatsApp chats? These third-party services are getting access to your messages. Now WhatsApp is gearing up to update its Terms of Service, as earlier this week it sent an in-app notification regarding its update on ‘Privacy Policy’ to users. Let’s see what has changed and what hasn’t with the messaging app.

Crux of the Matter

Let’s start by taking a look at the notification received:

What If We Don’t Agree To It?
The company’s new terms of service and privacy policy will go live on 8 February. In order to continue using the app thereafter, the users will have to agree to these rules.

What Are The Changes?
The most significant ones are how WhatsApp shares information with Facebook and its subsidiaries. Till now, existing users were provided with the option, to not share their WhatsApp account information with Facebook. 

The Hardware Information Collected

  • Battery level
  • Signal strength
  • App version
  • Browser information
  • Mobile network
  • Connection information (phone number and ISP)
  • IP address
  • Device operations information

Where Will This Data Be Located?
Whatsapp says it uses Facebook’s global infrastructure and data centers for data storage, including the ones in the US. This was not explicitly mentioned in the previous policy. It also says that in some cases, data will be transferred to the other parts where Facebook’s affiliate companies are based, adding that “these transfers are necessary to provide the global Services set forth in our Terms.”

Will Our Messages Remain Encrypted?
Yes, Whatsapp stays end-to-end encrypted i.e it can’t see your messages, or share it with anyone. This is because the data is encrypted on the sender’s device, so only the recipient can decrypt it.

Then What About Payments?
WhatsApp states that if we use their payments services they will “process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information.” The WhatsApp Payments feature in India, anyways has its own privacy policy. On being rolled out last year, National Payments Corporation of India had taken measures to stop it from monopolising digital payments.

Data Collected By Other Messenger Apps

  • Signal – claims to only use mobile number for registration and not link it to the user’s identity.
  • iMessage – Email address, Phone number, Search history and Device ID.
  • Telegram – Name, Phone number, Contacts and User ID.

  • WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Tencent. First released in 2011, it became the world’s largest standalone mobile app in 2018, with over 1 billion monthly active users. WeChat has been described as China’s “app for everything” and a “super app” because of its wide range of functions.
  • On December 17, 2012, Instagram announced a change to its terms of use that caused a widespread outcry from its user base. The controversial clause stated: “you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you“. The move garnered severe criticism from privacy advocates as well as consumers. After one day, Instagram apologized saying that it would remove the controversial language from its terms of use.
  • Terms and Conditions May Apply is a documentary that addresses how corporations and the government utilize the information that users provide when agreeing to browse a website, install an application, or purchase goods online. Made in 2013 by Cullen Hoback, it discusses the language used in user-service agreements on the World Wide Web, and how online service providers collect and use users’ and customers’ information.