WhatsApp Bows Out From Limiting Features For New Privacy Policy Opposers


As privacy concerns continue to rock its camp, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is reversing the plan to limit functionalities to users who had not accepted the new privacy policy rolled out at the beginning of 2021.

The deadline to accept the new policy was originally purposed to take effect by February 8th but mass confusion from users about data sharing led WhatsApp to delay the update and deadline by three months.

WhatsApp has spent those months repeatedly clarifying that the new policy does not affect user chats or other profile information, but is focused on conversations happening between a client and an organization’s customer service on WhatsApp’s business platform.

Those who had not accepted the new terms and others who could not bear a possible limitation of functionality decided to switch to alternative private messaging apps like Telegram and Signal.

A WhatsApp spokesperson in late May said that they have come to this decision after holding discussions with various authorities and privacy experts. It is during this same period that the messaging service sued the Indian government over a new regulation that would make people’s private messages traceable by the authorities.

“Civil society and technical experts around the world have consistently argued that a requirement to ‘trace’ private messages would break end-to-end encryption and lead to real abuse” read their statement.

They insisted in a blog post that they are committed to protecting the privacy of personal messages and that they are opposing that traceability feature. This is also even though in another case in Delhi High Court in India, WhatsApp is required to defend its 2021 privacy policy.

Personal data sharing is something WhatsApp had been doing even before the introduction of their new, broad and confusing language in the latest privacy policy update. Information including user phone number is shared with the parent company Facebook since 2016, except for few users who opted out when the option was still available.

It is important to note that the new privacy policy by WhatsApp has not been implemented in Europe, a decision informed by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. This act has not been well received by users and authorities in other countries, as it comes out as discriminatory.

Although users will no longer lose access to the app if they didn’t agree to the new terms of service agreement, users will still get reminded about the new policy if they haven’t accepted it.

“We will continue to remind users from time to time and let them accept the update, including when they choose to use relevant optional features like communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook,” WhatsApp said.

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