In accordance with the Rules, the key features of the policy are:
Rule 1 – Defines ‘personal sensitive data’ as debit or credit card information, internet passwords, medical records, etc.
- The type of information or data collected.
- The use and purpose of collecting such data. It must be clear and easy to interpret the statement of a company’s practices and policies.
- Security practice and procedures
- Disclosure of Information
Rule 3 – provisions that govern the collection of personal information by corporates:
- An information provider can decide to opt out of providing such information at any stage
- A grievance redressal body should be set up to solve discrepancies
- (Sensitive or personal data) should be disclosed to the user. The data cannot be collected without users consent
- Data shall not be kept post its time limit or for a period longer than required.
- The information collected shall be used only for the intended purpose it was collected.
Rule 4 – in order to disclose sensitive information to third parties, the information provider’s consent is required. Except in cases mandated by law.
The year 2009 saw two ex-yahoo employees deciding to build a tech product that would enable any two users in the world to, as simple as it sounds, chat. Little did they know that in the next 6 years, WhatsApp would break grounds in the way people communicated. No more paying for SMS, worries about message lag or apprehension over the delivery of a message. Forget having to login to a social media site to reach out to your dear ones. WhatsApp has ultimately introduced us to the world of seamless communication.
WhatsApp has saved us money and time in the best way possible. Through the years they have also, phenomenally succeeded in including other tools such as WhatsApp calls, voice notes and location share. And now, for the first time in four years, WhatsApp has decided to share its database of your phone numbers with Facebook, the acquiring company. This means that WhatsApp will have integrated features and services on its app. This works into their marketing strategy as banks, insurances, hotels, travel reservations etc. would be able to send messages to you directly on WhatsApp. The claim is also, that it will further decrease spam and provide more user-tailored suggestions.
- WhatsApp is still Ad-free, just as it was before the update. Phew.
- Details about the smartphone such as – operating system, online status, the number registered on WhatsApp and so on will be shared with Facebook. We are talking about two of the largest databases sharing information with each other.
- Facebook can now use targeted advertisements on its website and app. Gee. More ads.
- There are concerns that Facebook can use data mining to its advantage by compiling all of WhatsApp’s user data. However, WhatsApp stated that it will continue to operate independently and content will not be shared unless users have given their consent.
- WhatsApp messages won’t be shared with Facebook, well thank God for this. We would have to redefine the term ‘privacy’ otherwise. Although, there is no mention of the type of information restricted and to whom it is issued (third party business).
- End-to-end encryption is here for the long haul. WhatsApp will continue to encrypt all communications on the app. This means no-one, not even WhatsApp, can see your messages. It remains strictly between you and the person you choose to communicate with.
- Businesses across the world can set up business accounts on WhatsApp and communicate directly with consumers through the app. This could be a receipt to a recent purchase made at a store or a bus or flight booking to cite a few examples.
- WhatsApp will still allow its users to block inappropriate or unwelcome messages, especially from unknown profiles. Spam is still a major concern on all social platforms.
- All WhatsApp users will have a 30 day time limit to accept the new policy terms and conditions. Post which WhatsApp will keep bugging you to update it.
- Once the terms and conditions have been accepted, the user has another 30 days to opt out, should the user choose to. This time limit that has been allotted, seems rather insufficient for any ideal user. Most users almost never read the terms and conditions of any application or website. In this case, users will fail to understand what they are giving their consent to and how a small little tick unticked ensures users privacy. In other words, if the user realises that he should not have consented to the new policies only after 30 days, he/she will be in no position to retract the consent.
- WhatsApp will help organisations protect their copyrighted content and intellectual property rights. If an infringement is reported by a user, WhatsApp can legally sue or take lawful action. It is unclear if this applies to music and videos shared on the app, because all messages are encrypted. A point of major concern is how WhatsApp would take legal recourse against an infringement if the end-to-end encryption policy still holds good? The dots don’t seem to connect.
In light of these changes, WhatsApp users have taken to online portals and social media to express their concerns. Reviews on reddit seem quite apt to describe a public opinion. The chaos and mistrust expressed on this thread resonates in the minds of all WhatsApp users alike, on a global scale.
Every six months, Facebook is required to publish a transparency report. This report contains details of court orders and government requests asking for specific information, user data in particular. Will these reports contain WhatsApp data in the future if and when asked for? This is an issue that requires to be addressed.