Facebook-hosted messaging giant, WhatsApp, triggered public concern this week caused by amendments to its terms and privacy policy.

The private policy amendment associates to how programs users’ data, how businesses can use store their chats in Facebook services, and who allies with Facebook to provide incorporation across all Facebook products, speaks Ahmore Burger-Smidt, director at law firm Werksmans.

Customers that expressed discontent about the application’s amended policies are widespread, and social media concerning private data / information being wrongly applied is multiplying.

Nonetheless, the director said that the concerns might not be fully rational, also discussing the alterations and their meaning for the ordinary WhatsApp user.

WhatsApp security and privacy

WhatsApp is the world’s largest messaging service, with over two billion monthly frequent users. Since its launch in 2009, it has boasted its dedication to security and privacy with ciphered conversations and other essential innovations incorporated into the application.

This is illustrated by WhatsApp’s current privacy policy date February 2021 which, including others, states that:

“Your messages. We do not retain your messages in the ordinary course of providing our Services to you. Instead, your messages are stored on your device and not typically stored on our servers. Once your messages are delivered, they are deleted from our servers,”

“In addition to the above, the WhatsApp privacy policy states that WhatsApp and other third parties cannot read the messages of its users due to the built-in end-to-end encryption,” said Burger-Smidt.

“Also, WhatsApp cannot decrypt the contents of a user’s profile contents, that being messages, calls and photos. This means that WhatsApp does not store personal information i.e the content of your messages as such, and deletes your messages on their servers immediately.”

Burger-Smidt noted that WhatsApp does not gain access to metadata, IP addresses, profile pictures, status updates, and customer contact information.

Although metadata restricts anyone from accessing user messages, it enables transparency regarding who and when you have texted someone and for how long.

The alterations to WhatsApp privacy

Essentially, the current modifications to WhatsApp terms and privacy policy associate to how WhatsApp will spread information within the Facebook group of companies and how and shared information will be utilized. These main updates are concerned with:

  • WhatsApp’s service and the mechanisms of processing users’ data.
  • How businesses can utilize Facebook-hosted services to store and control their WhatsApp charts.
  • How WhatsApp’s partnership with Facebook provides integrations across the former’s product portfolio.

“It is important to note that the information collected by WhatsApp is not the ‘chats’ of its users, as these are encrypted and therefore cannot be seen by the company,” said Burger-Smidt.

“To the contrary, the information relates to personal data such as phone numbers of users (and their contacts, if the contacts make use of WhatsApp), profile names, pictures and diagnostic data.”

The current private policy clearly states how WhatsApp will share data with Facebook linked applications for enhanced advertising targeting, she said.

“The fear is that this gives Facebook even more incentive to monetize user WhatsApp data. Statements have been made by many that the update of WhatsApp private policy will now enforce sharing of data from WhatsApp to Facebook and even that WhatsApp will completely invade user privacy.”

It is about business

The director said that WhatsApp has incorporated new features that enable people to interact with businesses- and those businesses could be Facebook hosted.

“Businesses making use of the WhatsApp program will have the opportunity of using Facebook services to reserve the business-customer chats.”

“However, users should be informed if that happens by the specific business. When speaking to a business who gas decided to have its messages managed by Facebook, a message should appear and users should stop engaging with the specific business if they would prefer that information not be managed by Facebook,” she said.

Burger-Smidt said that in future there will be even larger incorporation between WhatsApp and Facebook’s other products such as Instagram and Messenger.

This indicates that they will share data including your phone number, transaction data, IP address, and information on your interaction with businesses.

What is entailed in sharing of personal information between Facebook companies.

The WhatsApp privacy policy notes that this entails:

  • Assisting to enhance infrastructure and delivery systems;
  • Comprehending how the WhatsApp or Facebook services are utilized;
  • Encouraging safety, security, and integrity in all Facebook company products;
  • Enhancing services and user experiences such as personalizing features and contents, assisting users to complete purchases and transactions, and indicating relevant provisions and advertisements across the Facebook company products;
  • Providing incorporations that allow users to link WhatsApp with other Facebook Pay Account to make payments on WhatsApp.

“So yes, advertising directed at a sure specifically is possible and certain information will be shared to achieve that,”
Burger-Smidt said.

Cosmetic changes

WhatsApp connects over 50 million WhatsApp Business app users.

To assist them and the other businesses on the WhatsApp business API get noticed, the Company is launching these modern features to develop a conversation with a business on WhatsApp to identify which products and services they offer, the director said.

“The update to the WhatsApp privacy policy is cosmetic in nature and to a large extent aimed to allow people to communicate with businesses- which businesses are offered through WhatsApp and hosted by Facebook.

“Also, when messages are conversed with those business accounts, they might be stored and managed by Facebook at the election of the specific business.

“Data privacy laws across the world require clear and transparent communications with data subjects. Are we blaming WhatsApp for updating their communication so that users know what is happening in the background?”

Source: https://sites.google.com/view/onlinecasinosouthafrica/home

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