What is WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and how they affect your WhatsApp usage?

WhatsApp privacy

If you are an active WhatsApp user and are running on the latest version of the messaging platform — chances are you might have come across this screen suggesting “WhatsApp is updating its terms and privacy policy”. This update has been rolled out to millions of users implying that they need to tap on ‘Agree’ on both iOS and Android platforms. That’s because the Facebook-owned messaging platform is set to bring new terms and privacy policy that users need to accept. They are said to be taking effect from next month i.e. February 8th, 2021.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp users are allowed to use the platform until the aforementioned deadline without accepting the new terms and policies. After which, users are strictly not allowed to use the platform or they can happily delete their accounts, in case they are not in good terms with the new policies and terms from the messaging platform. So,

What are these new key updates, policies, and terms of WhatsApp?

In the latest update, the messaging platform has mentioned key updates on how it collects and processes its users’ data. And, how businesses will be able to use Facebook hosted services and manage their chats on the platform. Further, the messaging platform implies how it partners with Facebook to integrate the service across its other platforms.

“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA”, WhatsApp suggests in its new key updates section. The new terms of service and privacy policy of the app indicate how the messaging platform manages users’ data and integrates into Facebook-owned products, Instagram, for instance.

WhatsApp Services

Since it’s a messaging service provider that has a significant user base, strong privacy has to be mandatory, which WhatsApp promises to do so. The Facebook-owned company indicates the messaging platform’s services are built with strong privacy and security principles.

Also, it’s a communication service, which means you interact with people through various means including messages, calls, video calls, location sharing, media sharing, and also payments. To achieve that any user would allow access to all of these (through app settings both in Android and iOS) to make the functioning of WhatsApp, a lot smoother.

WhatsApp, on the other hand, can analyse this ‘encrypted data’ to achieve improvements in its ‘Services’. This also includes helping out businesses on WhatsApp to measure their services and messages.

As WhatsApp is operating globally, the infrastructure like data centres, for instance, might be owned or operated by service providers that include affiliated companies too, the messaging platform implies in its new ‘services’.

Affiliated companies here imply Facebook companies. Since the messaging platform itself is a part of that company, it can share information across the other products of the parent company.

Also read: WhatsApp Audio/Video calling for Web and Desktop versions hinted in beta: Could roll out soon for users

WhatsApp Privacy Policy

The information shared falls under WhatsApp’s new privacy policy. It further explains the data practices of the messaging platform. Also, showcases what kind of information is collected and shared and how it affects the respective user.

“WhatsApp must receive or collect some information to operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services, including when you install, access, or use our Services.”

“Our Services have optional features which, if used by you, require us to collect additional information to provide such features. You will be notified of such a collection, as appropriate. If you choose not to provide the information needed to use a feature, you will be unable to use the feature.”

For instance, the ‘information’ here includes your phone number, which is mandatory to create an account that is collected by WhatsApp regardless. There’s optional information that you provide like location, which is not mandatory and can be turned off permanently. If you often tend to use location sharing with other contacts you need to enable it too.

Messaging, the key aspect of the service also gets new privacy policies. WhatsApp claims that users’ messages are not stored on their servers but their phones instead. However, the messages are temporarily stored on their servers until the respective message gets delivered and deleted later.

There are other scenarios to it as well. If the respective message is undelivered, the Facebook-owned company explains that it gets saved as encrypted on their servers for up to 30-days. The case is different with the media, however. If a user tends to share media (like photo/video) within a conversation it will likely be stored for a longer period in encrypted form since there are chances of forwarding it more often.

There is tons of other information, which WhatsApp says that it can get automatically collected. It includes users’ usage and log information, device and connection information, location information, and also cookies. There’s third party information that can be collected through WhatsApp ‘services’. This could include your mobile number, address book, messages, which are of course provided by the users to have better-messaging platform experience. This also includes media, which further includes screenshots taken and shared as well.

“We require each of these users to have lawful rights to collect, use, and share your information before providing any information to us”, suggests messaging platform.

There’s more, there are user reports, which comprise either your reports about other users or other users’ reports including third party services’ reports about you. This information is also collected by the WhatsApp of both parties. Also, information that a user shares with businesses on WhatsApp could be collected from the Facebook-owned messaging platform. More of the information collected from WhatsApp can be found here.

Also read: How to use new WhatsApp disappearing messages feature on iOS, Android, Web and KaiOS

How does WhatsApp use this information?

“We use information we have (subject to choices you make and applicable law) to operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services,” WhatsApp mentions under its new privacy policy.

The messaging platform can use the collected information to operate and provide its ‘services’. This further includes how users are utilizing the services, which are further evaluated and considered for other improvements in future. The information can further be utilised for safety, security and integrity, says WhatsApp. This can comprise account verifications and other activities.

Though messaging platform intends to use the information for marketing its services with other Facebook products, it clarifies that it has no intentions to introduce third-party ads, which is a good thing. There are business interactions that multisite ‘services’ to send users transactions, appointments and other such kinds of shipping details.

All in all, new terms and privacy policies of WhatsApp comprehend what information is collected and used across its services and other Facebook products. The million active users now have an option to either ‘agree’ to these new policies or can opt-out of WhatsApp altogether.

So, what do you think of these new terms and policies of WhatsApp? Did you find it useful? Will you agree to it? Or, simply leave the platform? Do let us know and stay tuned.

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Vishnu Sarangapurkar
vishnu.sarangapurkar@u2opiamobile.com

Vishnu works as a Content Writer for Mr. Phone. His primary interests revolve around covering smartphones and all other gadgets connected to the Internet.