By Wilma Bedford
The current debate about WhatsApp’s new privacy rules and ultimatum to you as user to underwrite the policy or your account will be suspended, has caused many to be hot under the collar and some to be confused and anxious.
WhatsApp has sent various ultimatum messages to users: accept the new policy with its terms and conditions or run the risk of losing your account.
WhatsApp insists that these changes are essential to better integrate with Facebook, but users don’t agree that they wish to receive unwanted marketing material or junk mail, don’t want their correspondence or contacts to be monitored, or that they be used to enrich someone else.
Will my WhatsApp be read by Facebook? Your messages on WhatsApp are secured through end-to-end encryption and will not be read by Facebook. WhatsApp does not keep your messages, photos, videos, voice messages, files and location, these are only stored on your appliance.
What you do share with WhatsApp and will probably be shared further, are your usage data and your phone’s unique identifier, which are linked to your identity and listed at Apple Inc’s App Store. It is about this data that a decision now has to be taken as to whether it can be shared with Facebook.
What data does WhatsApp already possess about me? This part of information is also not new. Since 2014, when Facebook purchased WhatsApp and the two platforms were integrated, WhatsApp has been sharing information such as phone numbers, transaction data, data about a user’s interaction with other users, cell phone information, IP address with Facebook. Certain information is collected automatically: Service-related information, for example WhatsApp’s service provision information and the user’s information transaction information, for example payments and receipts of goods purchased at the App Store, and appliance specific information, such as when a user uses the service, appliance identifier, search information, network information, and location.
Why does Facebook want to obtain this data? In the third quarter of 2020 Facebook (who also owns WhatsApp) earned $21.5 billion from ads, but WhatsApp received no income. Facebook can reach more users on WhatsApp and Instagram by knowing how users use WhatsApp and in this way businesses can receive payment for items on which users for example clicked in Instagram ads.
The proposed policy is not the same everywhere. In the USA WhatsApp wants to offer users the opportunity to pay for goods via WhatsApp, by connecting their WhatsApp to a Facebook account and by enabling them to chat through Facebook’s other products, such as Portal.
In Europe things look different because the European Union does not maintain a very strong policy regarding private information and companies can be fined should they break the Union’s rules. In 2017 this led to Facebook having to pay a $133 million fine to the Union for misleading information about the take-over of WhatsApp, during which Facebook did not inform the Union that it was not technically possible to use WhatsApp’s data together with Facebook’s other services.
How safe is my data? WhatsApp gives the assurance that privacy and other security features are in place, that WhatsApp does not store messages after they have been delivered, received and read and that WhatsApp or a third party cannot read them if they are end-to-end encrypted.
How do I protect myself? If you have a Facebook account you have already agreed to allow Facebook to store information of all your online activity, your search history, WhatsApp groups you belong to and everything you share on Messenger. Facebook makes money through ads based on your data and on items you have searched for.
You can protect yourself against Facebook by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). With a VPN you use another server in another location that changes your IP address and keeps your data encoded, which ensures that Facebook cannot trace your data. You can also protect yourself by reviewing your privacy settings and determining there how much of your personal information you wish to make known.
Why WhatsApp’s New Privacy Rules Are Sparking Alarm Nate Lanxon January 11, 2021
What data does Facebook Collect?
Chyelle Dvorak Contributing Writer, Dec 09, 2020
Facebook’s Mandatory Data-Sharing Rules for WhatsApp Spark Ire
Elizabeth Montalbano. January 7, 2021 https://threatpost.com/Facebooks-mandatory-data-sharing-WhatsApp-ire/162828/