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Sajai Singh Shares his Insights on Data Privacy Amidst WhatsApp Privacy Policy Update

“Will Cathcart, WhatsApp Head, has clarified that WhatsApp has updated its policy to be transparent and to better describe optional people-to-business features. WhatsApp is a free app for the individual, who downloads it and uses it based on the prescribed policy. Should there be a change in the policy, it is the duty of WhatsApp to inform its users. That is just what is happening. This update is restricted to business communication and does not change WhatsApp's data-sharing practices with its parent, Facebook. The new policy explains how over 50 million WhatsApp business accounts will receive data when a user interacts with them. There should be no confusion that user chats, messages and similar data is the matter of debate. These are end-to-end encrypted and therefore event WhatsApp cannot see them. Rather, the information being shared is metadata of the user. Of its 400 Million Indian users, how many are going to discontinue using WhatsApp because of their metadata may be shared in certain situations by WhatsApp? I believe a very small percentage. And, of the people reacting to Elon Musk’s tweet to move to Signal; there may be a shift to Signal, iMessage and Telegram. We have to remember that unlike other messaging rivals, Facebook is a for-profit enterprise. Can it, therefore, be faulted for trying to provide its consumers, partners and shareholders more value? Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, has often spoken about interoperability across the three platforms Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. As it added new features on its service, WhatsApp updated its users on their future communication with businesses; including businesses hosted by Facebook. All messaging apps are competing for the same consumer, and, therefore, privacy and security would be the last things any would compromise on. If security and privacy are still of concern to an individual, I would recommend moving away from free apps and using paid apps, like Threema. Also, till India doesn’t promulgate a data protection law, like the EU, it will not effectively be able to control the movement of data from the country. Like the updated WhatsApp’s policy won’t apply to the EU”

Sajai Singh

Partner, J Sagar Associates



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