Facebook bought the platform in 2014 and has gradually changed the way it accesses data from WhatsApp users. The social networking company is now showing WhatsApp users a “ take it or leave it ” attitude with the latest policy update.
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The update comes with a condition that if the user refuses to share data with Facebook, they will have to quit WhatsApp. The new terms of service are expected to come into effect within a month, on February 8.
What’s at stake?
The status, group names and icons, frequency and duration of activities, and if a user is online, the information will continue to be held by WhatsApp.
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Beyond that, the platform will collect data from the new payment functionality, including the processing method, transactions and shipping data. It will also collect and share the location, device model, operating system, battery level, and browser details.
A U-Turn of Privacy Label
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This clause has been removed in the updated policy, which requires users to give consent to WhatsApp to collect and share data.
How does this affect users?
WhatsApp was founded as a free cross-platform messaging app in 2009. It has gained over 400 million monthly active users four years later. Facebook bought the platform in 2014 and has gradually changed the way it accesses data from WhatsApp users. The social networking company is now showing WhatsApp users a “ take it or leave it ” attitude with the latest policy update.
The updated WhatsApp terms will help Facebook and connected third-party apps to exploit user data for business purposes, including personal data, by violating user privacy, according to Apar Gupta, executive director of Internet Freedom Foundation, a digital freedoms organization.
“There is a lack of independent third-party assessment as to the nature and amount of data used,” Gupta said.
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Personal data could also lead to the micro-targeting of propaganda and hate messages via Facebook, he added.
A forensic investigation is likely to help users find answers to questions about Facebook’s data collection practice, Gupta noted. Facebook has yet to respond to questions from the Joint Parliamentary Committee regarding its practice, making it more difficult to pinpoint where the data-sharing problem lies.
The lack of a data protection committee in India also compounds the problem.