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All you need to know about WhatsApp's new privacy policy

Srishti P
·2-min read

With over 2 billion users and more than 65 billion messages being exchanged on a daily basis, WhatsApp has cemented its place as the de facto medium for any kind of conversation. It follows naturally then that each action of the company is minutely scrutinised, especially with regards to data privacy.

So when WhatsApp announced an update to its privacy policy earlier this month, tongues started wagging nervously because of Facebook’s notorious reputation for sharing user data liberally. People started migrating to Signal and Telegram (messaging apps with stricter data privacy norms) en masse. But is the furore justified? Or is it an overreaction?

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Here is everything you need to know:

Gist of the new policy

Users have started receiving an in-app notification to accept the new policy terms by February 8 or risk losing access to their accounts.

The update addresses 3 changes - how the app processes and stores user data, how businesses can leverage WhatsApp to utilise Facebook-hosted services, and how it plans to integrate with Facebook to improve user experience across all Facebook properties.

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What data will it collect?

WhatsApp outlined the data it collects from users. It includes device-level data like hardware model, OS, device operations info and connection-related parameters like battery levels, IP address, signal strength, network connectivity, language and timezone, browser data, app version, and more.

What data will it share with Facebook?

Your phone number, IP address, device details, transaction data, service-related information, data on your interaction patterns with others (including businesses) will be shared with Facebook. The policy states that it may share this information with its group of companies to support and facilitate their activities and enhance their service offering.

So will it be able to read my chats?

WhatsApp scrambled to issue a clarification after its new policy sparked an outcry vis-a-vis personal chats. It reassured users that nothing changes with respect to ‘messaging friends and family’ but only pertains to ‘messaging businesses’.

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More specifically:

Neither WhatsApp / Facebook nor any third party can read your chats, listen in on your calls or access call recordings. These are end-to-end encrypted and will continue to remain so.

It cannot see shared locations

It does not store logs of your call records

It does not share your Contacts book with anyone

Your group chats also will not be used to show you targeted ads as they are safely locked inside a black box as well

However, if you see an ad on Facebook that redirects you to talk with the brand on WhatsApp, your activity may be used to show you better and more relevant ads on Facebook.

In a nutshell, there is no need to press the panic button if all you use WhatsApp for is to communicate with family and friends.

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