WhatsApp’s new Privacy Policy Sparks Outcry

Honesty is the best policy , When there is money in it -Mark Twain-

From being one of the best sought after cross-platform messaging apps to being subjected to massive criticism, WhatsApp has caused quite a stir after the release of the “WhatsApp Privacy Policy 2021”. WhatsApp is known for its quality service in Voice over IP, Video Calling, content sharing and messaging facilities in its platform. It has been available to users for free and is acquired and owned by Social Media giant Facebook Inc. To continue using the messaging services WhatsApp has mandated the users to agree on the privacy policy which has been widely speculated as “WhatsApp gives user an ultimatum”. This is also considered to be one of the first times that WhatsApp has issued an explicit user agreement policy that provides details on the collection and storage of user data. Speculations also states that the explicit user agreement policy might also stem from the back-to-back lawsuits charged against user data policy.

Here is the list of information that is being collected as said by WhatsApp and Facebook. In the latest WhatsApp privacy policy.

· Account Information, undelivered messages, media forwarding logs (Note: End-to-End encryption has not been altered or made any changes)

· Connection, status information, transactions and payment data and Customer support communications.

· Usage and log information, Device and Connection information, Location Information, Cookies

We use information we have to operate and provide our Services, including providing customer support; completing purchases or transactions; improving, fixing, and customizing our Services; and connecting our Services with Facebook Company Products that you may use. We also use information we have to understand how people use our Services; evaluate and improve our Services; research, develop, and test new services and features; and conduct troubleshooting activities. We also use your information to respond to you when you contact us.

-WhatsApp Privacy Policy-

Safety, security and integrity are an integral part of our Services. We use information we have to verify accounts and activity; combat harmful conduct; protect users against bad experiences and spam; and promote safety, security and integrity on and off our Services, such as by investigating suspicious activity or violations of our Terms and policies, and to ensure our Services are being used legally.

-WhatsApp Privacy Policy-

With all provided information continuing the services with WhatsApp ultimately depends on the user. If the user is highly concerned with the fact that data is being shared to WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook Inc, can proceed to remove their account off the services. The “Managing and Retaining” section of the policy dictates the service settings, change of user information, deletion and retention of user data.

For users who wish to discontinue the services with WhatsApp the best alternative solution compared to all other cross-platform messaging applications, Signal stands out to be one of the best go to options. Since the release of the policy signal messenger stocks have hit a boom and is on the rise. The fact that signal is an open-source application and is developed by the community, the application is more user based than that of WhatsApp which has turned out to be commercial based.

Signal is designed to never collect or store any sensitive information. Signal messages and calls cannot be accessed by us or other third parties because they are always end-to-end encrypted, private, and secure.

-Signal User Policy-

Widely speculating blogs and posts about drastic changes effects of the new WhatsApp policy is based on personal opinions. The contents of the policy as defined by the company is explained here. The decision on continuing or discontinuing the services provided by WhatsApp solely depends on the user’s decision.

References —

https://twitter.com/signalapp

https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/updates/privacy-policy/?lang=en

Written By/ Arun Viraj -Cyber Security Analyst at CryptoGen -4rd Year 1st Semester -Cyber Security Student at SLIIT

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