Latest changes to the privacy policy of the WhatsApp messaging service anger its loyal users

The company announced on January 6 This will force users to share information with Facebook if they wish to continue using the service.

Privacy advocates have questioned the ruling, citing Facebook's track record in handling user data This has also prompted some people online – including Tesla founder Elon Musk – call on users to quit the app and use more privacy-focused messaging services like Signal and Telegram.

«Whenever a business combines data from multiple sources, of several platforms, this raises privacy concerns, because it increases the possibility that people can be identified, that a company knows more about you», said Anatoliy Gruzd, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Digital Privacy Technologies at Ryerson University

The updated privacy policy requires that users «accept» to share the data it collects about you – such as your phone number and location – with Facebook by February 8 or lose access to their accounts

This data will be shared with the larger Facebook network, like Instagram and Messenger, and apply regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there.

The option to share data with Facebook has been on the app for years, but so far, it was only an option

The terms now make it clear that «WhatsApp receives information and shares information with other Facebook companies We may use the information we receive from them, and they can use the information we share with them, to help operate »and to market services

The key appeal of the application – end-to-end encrypted conversations and calls – is still intact Neither WhatsApp itself nor Facebook and its entities can access it, which means that no one, including whatsapp, don't know what users are saying

WhatsApp says it won't share contacts with Facebook, nor that he or Facebook will be able to see users' shared location Messages can always be set to disappear and groups always remain private, the company clarified on Twitter this week.

We want to respond to some rumors and be at 100% clair, We continue to protect your private messages with imageTwittercom end-to-end encryption / 6qDnzQ98MP

The type of information shared with Facebook is the main difference Depending on the policy, other information that will be shared with Facebook includes information from the user's browser, language, the time zone, the IP address and the mobile network.

Your phone's battery level, signal strength and connection information (as your internet service provider) will also be shared

Experts say change deepens integration between Facebook and WhatsApp It's no surprise to Gruzd

“They always intended to integrate WhatsApp with other services”, did he declare “They try to monetize – make money with WhatsApp From a business point of view, it's logic”

But the privacy concerns of its users are legitimate, he said WhatsApp can still encrypt text conversations, more «other unencrypted data points» can be problematic – now or in the future

“As with many products of this type, companies sometimes collect data and don't know how they plan to use it”, did he declare. “Once they have started, This is when we discover ethical and confidentiality issues”

“It's part of this holistic view of Facebook as a business and what they do to protect their user base.”, did he declare

«Facebook has long been in the spotlight for privacy breaches and security breaches, starting with the Cambridge Analytica scandal Every problem since has added to a negative perception of the company as a whole”

January 6, the day WhatsApp warned of its updated privacy terms, users began to abandon ship Many chose to transfer their encrypted conversations to similar Signal and Telegram messaging apps

About 810 000 users around the world installed Signal on Sunday, be near 18 times compared to January download figures. 6, according to data from the research company Apptopia

To cope with the number of new users, Signal said it added more servers to handle traffic Until recently, the non-profit app was widely used by journalists and human rights activists looking for a more secure and encrypted mode of communication.

Verification codes are currently delayed for several vendors, because many new people are trying to join Signal at the moment (we can barely register our enthusiasm) We are working with the carriers to resolve this issue as quickly as possible Hang on

Europe and UK users will not see the same data sharing changes as the rest of the world, although they will have to accept new conditions In a press release, as reported by the BBC, Facebook said there would be no change in the «European region» – which covers the EU, EEA and post-Brexit UK Seen as victory for EU privacy regulators, who fought for strict privacy laws and fines for breaking Union rules.

The policy for Canada and the United States contains a number of statements that do not appear in the version for Europe For example, WhatsApp is making it clear that it wants to be able to allow users to start connecting their Facebook Pay accounts «to pay for things on WhatsApp”

The conditions of use of the application also contain a «binding arbitration provision» for Canada and the US More precisely By accepting the new conditions of the application, users also agree to resolve any dispute they may have with the application, “including those related to, arising out of or in any way relating to your rights to privacy and publicity”, without judge or jury

Gruzd said it was not uncommon to have «all kinds of conditions» for service conditions «buried», but without sufficient protection in Canada, there are always more reasons to be suspicious and aware of what you accept

“In Canada, we do not have strong privacy protection or data regulations At present, we are not well protected, compared to what the European Union has, for example », said Gruzd

“Consequently, companies like Facebook can include all kinds of conditions, because it does not go against what we have in place”

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