Social Media

WhatsApp to press ahead with new privacy policy; will come up with clearer info for users

Our Bureau. Mumbai | Updated on February 19, 2021

Notwithstanding the user backlash and a government request to put its new privacy policy on hold, WhatsApp has decided to press ahead with the updated terms.

The messaging company will, however, make its policies clearer and more transparent to address any misgivings users may have about data being shared with Facebook, which owns it.

“We’ve reflected on what we could have done better here. We want everyone to know our history of defending end-to-end encryption and trust we’re committed to protecting people’s privacy and security. We’re now using our ‘Status’ feature to share our values and updates directly within WhatsApp. We’ll be doing much more to make our voice clear going forward,” WhatsApp said in a blogpost.

In January, WhatsApp had updated its privacy policy and asked users to agree to the changes before February 8. This led to a strong user backlash across the world as they were concerned about the nature of data being shared with Facebook. Users were also upset about the terse ‘accept or leave’ tone of WhatsApp’s initial messaging.

In India, hundreds of users shifted to rival platforms such as Telegram and Signal even as the Ministry of Electronics and IT urged WhatsApp to put on hold the updated terms of service. The Supreme Court is also hearing a petition filed by a start-up founder against the new policy.

WhatsApp, on the other hand, insists that its new policy has been misunderstood due to misinformation. The company spent the last several weeks reviewing feedback from users from many countries. One of the key messages, it has been highlighting is that WhatsApp cannot read or listen to personal conversations as they’re end-to-end encrypted. WhatsApp also does not keep a log of messaging nor does it share contact lists with Facebook. Since January, the company has built a way to communicate these points directly in WhatsApp through our ‘Status’ feature.

More information

“In the coming weeks, we’ll display a banner in WhatsApp providing more information that people can read at their own pace. We’ve also included more information to try and address concerns we’re hearing. Eventually, we’ll start reminding people to review and accept these updates to keep using WhatsApp,” the blogpost of the FB firm said.

“We’re stressing that this update does not change the privacy of people’s personal conversations. This is about optional business features that are a part of our broader efforts to make communicating with a business secure, better, and easier for everyone. Connecting with a business is entirely optional. We display more information directly in WhatsApp so people can choose if they want to engage with businesses, or not,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson.


Published on February 19, 2021

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