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How WhatsApp's new privacy policy affects you

By Peerzada Abrar
Last updated on: January 07, 2021 13:12 IST
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The most prominent changes deal with how WhatsApp shares information with Facebook and its subsidiaries.

Messaging giant WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy and terms of service to better integrate with other products and services offered by its parent company Facebook.

The most prominent changes deal with how WhatsApp shares information with Facebook and its subsidiaries.

The instant messaging app can now share phone numbers and transaction data with Facebook.


The aim is to also promote safety. “As we’ve previously informed in October 2020, as part of WhatsApp’s business vision, in order to enable users and businesses better, we are updating our terms of service and privacy policy as we work to make WhatsApp a great way to get answers or help from a business,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson on Wednesday.

“Privacy policy and terms updates are common in the tech industry, as you know.

"Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA. Since we started WhatsApp, we’ve built our services with a set of strong privacy principles in mind.”

The privacy policy and terms come into effect on February 8.

Experts said this means that if a user won’t accept the new changes, they will lose access to the app or may not be able to use all the features.

WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy and terms of service provide information on how the app collects and handles user information.

These include areas such as “transactions and payments data” and “location information”.

There is also a section related to data on “business interactions” taking place on the platform.

WhatsApp currently shares certain categories of information with Facebook, like account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data and service-related information.

It also shares information on how users interact with others (including businesses) when using its services, mobile device information, IP address.

It may “include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent,” WhatsApp said.

India is the biggest user base for Facebook, with around 328 million users, and WhatsApp has 400 million users here, also the highest.

Regarding transactions and payments data, if people use WhatsApp’s payments services or services meant for purchases or other financial transactions, the firm processes additional information about them.

This includes payment account and transaction information.

This includes information needed to complete the transaction (for example, information about your payment method, shipping details and transaction amount).

Regarding location information, WhatsApp collects and uses precise location information from users’ devices with their permission.

Even if users do not use location-related features, it uses IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate their general location.

“We allow you to use our services in connection with third-party services and Facebook company products.

"If you use our services with such third-party services or Facebook company products, we may receive information about you from them,” WhatsApp said.

For example, if people use the share button on a news service with their WhatsApp contacts, groups, or broadcast lists on its services.

Also if they choose to access the services through a mobile carrier’s or device provider’s promotion of WhatsApp’s Services.

“Please note that when you use third-party services or Facebook company products, their own terms and privacy policies will govern your use of those services and products,” said WhatsApp.

Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

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Peerzada Abrar in Bengaluru
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