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WhatsApp privacy policy update delayed: Everything that has happened so far

WhatsApp privacy policy update delayed: Here's a look at how all this started and what is happening now.

By: Tech Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: January 16, 2021 12:50:18 pm
WhatsApp, WhatsApp privacy policy, WhatsApp new privacy policy, WhatsApp Facebook data sharing, WhatsApp data sharing, WhatsApp data Facebook, WhatsApp Facebook location dataWhatsApp privacy policy update delayed; your account won’t be deleted

WhatsApp has announced that it is delaying implementation of the new privacy policy till May 2021, as the company wants users to understand the new terms and then agree. It admitted that the new policy has caused plenty of confusion and there has been a lot of misinformation about the changes as well. Further, WhatsApp as also promised that it will not delete anyone’s account on February 8.

The Facebook-owned company is giving users at least three months of time to properly review and accept the policy. WhatsApp said that the privacy policy will come into effect on May 15. Here’s a look at how all this started and what the situation is currently.

WhatsApp updates privacy policy on January 4

Earlier this month, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy and asked users to agree to the changes before February 8. The new updates included more information about how businesses use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats. It also expanded on how WhatsApp partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook Company.

WhatsApp highlighted that the new privacy policy would also impact user interactions with business accounts, many of which might use Facebook’s hosting services. The data sharing with Facebook was already taking place since 2016, when the last major update to the privacy policy took place. But keep in mind, WhatsApp never said it would share user data such as chats or group names or group chats with Facebook.

Read more: WhatsApp delays updated privacy policy after confusing users

WhatsApp faced backlash, people moved to signal or Telegram

The new privacy policy, while it did not change anything for personal chats, caused a lot of alarm. Many were unhappy with the ‘accept or leave’ conditions that WhatsApp had added in the terms and conditions. Further privacy issues were raised and a lot of misinformation also spread about the app.

Due to privacy issues, many users switched to Signal, which is a more privacy focused messaging app. As a result, Signal achieved the number one position on App Store in India and number three position on Google Play. A lot of people started downloading the private messaging app when Tesla CEO Elon Musk publicly urged users to use Signal. Many also moved to Telegram as it is a feature-rich messaging app.

Whatsapp issues clarification

As people were concerned about privacy and planned to migrate to other messaging apps, WhatsApp clarified that neither it nor Facebook can see users’ private messages or hear their calls. The company said that all the messages are end-to-end encrypted, and it doesn’t keep logs of who people message or call. The service also tried to clarify that WhatsApp can’t see the shared location (neither can Facebook), and it doesn’t share users’ contacts with Facebook.

WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone”s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook,” it said.

But it did clarify again that business chats between users and enterprise accounts were impacted under the new policy.  As the new policy underlined,  messaging a business on WhatsApp is not the same as one-on-one chat with your friends and family, given a business could use a third-party service to manage and host these chats. It could also use Facebook’s services to manage these chats and later use this data to say run an advertisement on the social media network. Read more on how that is impacted here.

In depth: Explained: How private is WhatsApp, what can Facebook see and should you look at alternatives?

WhatsApp extends deadline of privacy policy agreement

WhatsApp had asked its users to accept the new privacy policy by February 8, but it has now extended the deadline to May 15. The company believes that users are confused about their new terms and that they don’t have proper clarity on the latest privacy policy. WhatsApp has also confirmed the account of users won’t be deleted on February 8.

We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15,” the company said in a new blogpost.

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