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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 22 January, 2021

  • 9 Min Read

Analysis of Whatsapp Privacy Policy

Analysis of Whatsapp Privacy Policy

  • Data localisation is not the only approach towards protecting data privacy.
  • Following an exodus of its users from its messaging service, WhatsApp, to apps such as Signal and Telegram, which promise more privacy options, the Facebook-owned service might have been forced to postpone the date for users to accept its new privacy policy terms to May 15.
  • In just days after the earlier announcement by WhatsApp, Signal has emerged as the leading app on “app-stores” as Indian users signalled their discomfort with the former’s data sharing policies.
  • WhatsApp, with 459 million users, had emerged as the leading communications application for most Indians.
  • What has caused patrons discomfort is WhatsApp’s ability to seamlessly share user metadata and mobile information with its parent company and social media behemoth, Facebook.
  • Facebook Inc., which also owns Instagram, has sought to integrate the offerings from WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, with the former acting also as a tool that secures payments for services and ads posted on the latter two applications, beyond its primary use as a messaging service.
  • This integration of three large consumption products is a means to monetise their everyday use by consumers and considering the fact that Facebook’s revenue model uses data on its platform to allow advertisers to target ads towards users, the algorithms would benefit from the WhatsApp data as well.
  • Such data transfer from WhatsApp to Facebook is not possible in regions such as the EU, where data protection laws have stringent restrictions on storage and transfer of user data.
  • This regionally differential treatment has attracted the attention of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, which has sent WhatsApp a series of queries, including on why Indian users would be sharing information with Facebook, unlike in Europe.
  • The onus is also on the Indian government to quickly take up the legislation for robust data protection, that aligns with the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee, which tried to address concerns about online data privacy in line with the 2018 Puttaswamy judgment.
  • The draft Bill proposed by the government in 2019 diluted some of the provisos, for example, by limiting data localisation in proposing that only sensitive personal data needed to be mirrored in the country, and not all personal data as mandated by the committee.
  • But data localisation as proposed by the committee may not necessarily lead to better data privacy, as it carries the possibility of domestic surveillance over Indian citizens.
  • Privacy is better addressed by stronger contractual conditions on data sharing and better security tools being adopted by the applications that secure user data.
  • The proposed Bill has some of these features, similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, but it also requires stronger checks on state surveillance before it is passed.

For the features of New Whatsapp Privacy Policy: click here

Source: TH

  • 18 January, 2021

  • 9 Min Read

Analysis of Whatsapp Privacy Policy

Analysis of Whatsapp Privacy Policy

  • WhatsApp’s decision to delay the update of its privacy policy, following a backlash from its users, is an implicit acknowledgement of the increasing role played by perceptions about privacy in the continued well-being of a popular service.
  • Problems for the Facebook-owned app started earlier this month when it announced an update to its terms of service and privacy policy, according to which users would no longer be able to opt out of sharing data with Facebook.
  • February 8 was kept as the deadline for the new terms to be accepted. This triggered a mass exodus from WhatsApp, the likes of which it has never encountered, not even in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which did bring a lot of bad press to its parent, or when the messaging app’s co-founders called it quits a few years ago.
  • The WhatsApp policy update has clearly spooked many users, who, concerned about their privacy getting compromised, have shifted to alternative platforms such as Signal and Telegram.
  • In recent weeks, according to media reports, messaging app Signal has topped the app store charts in India and many other countries.
  • Interestingly, WhatsApp uses the same end-to-end encryption protocol as Signal.
  • An under-fire WhatsApp, on its part, has tried to allay fears about privacy being compromised because of the updates. It has put out numerous messages and taken out advertisements to convey that the changes are “related to optional business features on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data”.
  • Millions of business interactions take place every day on WhatsApp, and the new privacy updates are supposedly to make these easier while also enabling personalised ads on Facebook.
  • After all this, WhatsApp has pushed the update to May 15. The change will ultimately be inevitable, given that WhatsApp, bought by Facebook for a whopping $19 billion and having subsequently given up plans to charge its users, would be betting on its handling of business interactions to make its big monies.
  • Even then, it cannot force these changes on its users in Europe. For, Europe’s stringent General Data Protection Regulation, more popularly called GDPR, prevents such sharing between apps.
  • Users there are in control of their data much more than anywhere else in the world. India could do with such a law. All it has is a draft version of a law, and it has been so for a few years now.
  • Privacy of a billion citizens is too important a thing to be left just to the practices of a commercial enterprise.
  • It will be reassuring if it is guaranteed by a strong law.

Source: TH


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