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Whatsapp policy updates – Privacy infringement?

“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA” goes the first line in the Whatsapp Privacy policy page. With the whole tech world analyzing the new ‘Terms and conditions’ and ‘Privacy Policy’ updates of Whatsapp that was issued as an in-app notification for most Whatsapp users on January 4th , 2021, we present our analysis of the same issue in our post here:

Whatsapp policy updates –Privacy infringement

Facebook owned Whatsapp has stated that users must agree and abide by the new updates by February 8th, 2021, in order for the users to continue using their product.

These are the new updates which are regarding:

  • Whatsapp service and how your data is being processed
  • How businesses can use Whatsapp to manage their business chats
  • The integrations between Whatsapp and Facebook

These are some of the changes with the new privacy policy in detail:

  • When a user forwards media in a message, that media is temporarily stored in encrypted form in the servers of Whatsapp to aid in efficient delivery of forwards.From Whatsapp Privacy Policy: Media Forwarding. When a user forwards media within a message, we store that media temporarily in encrypted form on our servers to aid in more efficient delivery of additional forwards” (WhatsApp Privacy Policy)
  • You can upload the contact numbers in your address book to Whatsapp under applicable laws on a regular basis! If your contacts are not on Whatsapp as yet, they will be managed by Whatsapp in such a way that they cannot be identified by them!From Whatsapp Privacy Policy:  “Your Connections. You can use the contact upload feature and provide us, if permitted by applicable laws, with the phone numbers in your address book on a regular basis, including those of users of our Services and your other contacts. If any of your contacts aren’t yet using our Services, we’ll manage this information for you in a way that ensures those contacts cannot be identified by us. Learn more about our contact upload feature here” (WhatsApp Privacy Policy)
  • Whatsapp was already collecting information usage and log information about a user’s activity such as time, duration and frequency of activities, log files, diagnostic and crash reports. Now Whatsapp also collects information when you update your “About” information, the time when you registered yourself on Whatsapp, the features of Whatsapp that you use and more.From Whatsapp Privacy Policy: “This also includes information about when you registered to use our Services; the features you use like our messaging, calling, Status, groups (including group name, group picture, group description), payments or business features; profile photo, “about” information; whether you are online, when you last used our Services (your “last seen”); and when you last updated your “about” information” (WhatsApp Privacy Policy)
  • Maybe the truly touching part of this entire update is that Whatsapp users must agree to share their data with Facebook companies. Most think Whatsapp as a totally an end-to-end encrypted service, but sharing data with Facebook companies will definitely infringe upon the privacy rights of individuals. From Whatsapp Privacy Policy: “As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information (see here) with, the other Facebook Companies.” (WhatsApp Privacy Policy)
  • Whatsapp will also share information globally with other Facebook companies and other partners and service providers spread across the globe. Your information may be transferred to the US or any other foreign country outside of where you live and whose privacy laws may be different from where you stay.From Whatsapp Privacy Policy: “WhatsApp shares information globally, both internally within the Facebook Companies and externally with our partners and service providers, and with those with whom you communicate around the world, in accordance with this Privacy Policy. Your information may, for example, be transferred or transmitted to, or stored and processed in, the United States; countries or territories where the Facebook Companies’ affiliates and partners, or our service providers are located; or any other country or territory globally where our Services are provided outside of where you live for the purposes as described in this Privacy Policy” (WhatsApp Privacy Policy)

These are some latest updates stated by Facebook owned Whatsapp. What do you think of them?

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Bibliography
WhatsApp Privacy Policy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Whatsapp: https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/updates/privacy-policy

AUTHOR
Jayanthi Manikandan ( )
Cyber Security Analyst
Jayanthi Manikandan has a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information Assurance from Walsh college, Detroit, MI. She is passionate about Information security and has been writing about it for the past 6 years. She is currently ‘Security researcher at InfoSec train.
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