WhatsApp’s new privacy policy — here is why you don't have to lose sleep over it

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy — here is why you don't have to lose sleep over it
AP
  • The controversial privacy update on WhatsApp has been rolled out on May 15.
  • The Indian government has challenged the rollout of the update in the high court.
  • Here’s what happens with those who have not accepted the updated privacy policy.
WhatsApp on Monday told the Delhi high court that its new controversial privacy policy has not been deferred and came into effect on May 15th. It said that the deadline for the policy to come into effect has not been extended, but accounts not complying with the updated policy won't be deleted immediately.

“We are still trying to persuade consumers but if they don’t accept slowly, slowly these accounts will be deleted. There is no universal deadline for this,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Facebook-owned company, said. However, the Centre, in response said the new privacy policies of the app violates the Indian Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and asked the social media platform not to bring in any changes for now. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma, appearing for Centre added that the government has written to Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on the issue and a reply is awaited.
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The new privacy policy is now in effect from May 15. What will happen now?


If you don’t accept the terms of service

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This is where things get a bit tricky. WhatsApp says your account won't be deleted, and as many of you may have seen, those who haven't accepted the new privacy policy are still able to use the app after 3 days since the new policy has come into effect.

Users not complying with the policy haven't lost their current chat history and backup either, But they will be limited to use some of the features. You can still answer video and voice calls, reply to messages in the first few weeks, but you cannot open the chat list because you'll be welcomed with a pop up reminding you of the new terms of service.

You won't be able to:
  • set status updates within the app
  • forward messages from one chat to other
  • manage and use the broadcast list
  • create new groups
  • quote messages or tag participants in group chat
  • send voice messages, stickers and other media within the app
  • manually backup chat history
  • export your chat history
  • use the Click To Chat service
If you don't accept the new terms of service for more than a couple of weeks, you won't be able to receive calls and messages, or anything for that matter, as your app will be completely disabled.
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Note that WhatsApp won't delete your account and chats but you'll only be able to access and use it after accepting the terms. As per WABetaInfo, WhatsApp might still delete your account (chats, messages, backups) after a certain period (4 months) due to inactivity.

If you have accepted the terms of service

Many users believe that accepting the new terms and conditions will allow Facebook to gather more of their data, but it's not the case. You can still use the app to chat, call or send voice notes to friends and family while keeping it private just how it used to be. The change, however, is with how you interact with WhatsApp business accounts.

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There are two types of business accounts on WhatsApp -- a regular business account and a special business account that uses cloud providers. Chatting with a regular business account is just like how we chat with friends and family but in the case of 'special' business accounts that use cloud providers, there is a possibility of your chat being used to generate targeted advertisements on Facebook. What is being shared is also dependent on the privacy policy of the particular business you are engaging with. As a precautionary measure, you can always ask for their privacy policy by sending a message before you share any information that can be used to produce targeted ads. Some business accounts do have bad privacy practices, so this is where you have to be very careful if you do care about your privacy.

These special accounts that use tools to manage and store chat can be recognised by a mark at the top of the conversation. Also, your data (like what you see on the platform) might be shared with Facebook, if you use Facebook Shop. It is an optional feature available for business accounts. So avoiding the use of Facebook Shop will also keep data related to your behavioural pattern safe.

Should you accept the terms or not?

The bigger picture will bring the argument to an individual choice, but a shorter answer is that it's safe and not a lot will change after accepting. If you read all the details above, your privacy and data aren't hampered unless you don't engage with the business accounts that use cloud providers and the Facebook Shop. Both are optional features, and you won't be forced to use them in any case.
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Except for this part, the platform remains just how it was before May 15.

Also See:
Google said to rival Apple’s privacy push with Android 12 while taking care of its advertising business
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has six months to answer these five questions
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