The United States: The pro-privacy groups Electronic Privacy Information Center and Center for Digital Democracy have lodged a complaint against the leading messaging app “WhatsApp” over its new data sharing policy.
The privacy watch guards have demanded FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to inquire the social networking giant and parent company “Facebook” for its data sharing agreement with WhatsApp. Both the companies alleged WhatsApp for violating its privacy claims.
Interestingly, Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 and claimed that none of the users’ data would be shared with anyone, but the latest data sharing policy has struck upon all of its promises.
“The company complies with applicable laws and looks forward to answering any questions regulators or other stakeholders have about this update.”
Official Statement by Facebook
According to the complaint, the instant messaging app “WhatsApp” has been collecting contact numbers and personal information of over a billion of users even before officially releasing the data sharing agreement. In addition to this, the amendments in WhatsApp’s business practice is a deceptive act. Both the groups are hoping FTC to ban the data sharing agreement.
How WhatsApp & Facebook Will Use Your Data?
WhatsApp has responded to users’ queries regarding data sharing agreement and claimed that users’ contact numbers would only be used for receiving targeted advertisements. Moreover, no personal information of a user will be shared with anyone.
However, subscribers have expressed their concerns as few unusual incidents have proven that users’ contacts numbers are already being used to suggest people you may know. A user claimed that he visited a bar, met a girl who shared her contact number but disguised herself with a fake name. The next day, he was able to see her in the friends’ suggestion with her real identity, activities, location, workplace and photos in her profile.
Various privacy-conscious netizens are worried about WhatsApp’s new policy, as it will allow any stalker, hacker, kidnapper or a criminal to eavesdrop on your activities, location, friends, and family by having your contact number.
How to Safeguard Your Privacy from WhatsApp’s New Policy
To get around with the implications of WhatsApp’s new policy, users can option to step back from data sharing agreement. To do this, you need to:
- Access settings of WhatsApp
- Next, click on the account
- You will be able to see an option displaying “Share my data”, uncheck this option
- After unchecking this option, you’re protected against WhatsApp’s deceptive data sharing policy
Do note that if you have already agreed to the terms and conditions of this new data sharing policy, you have 30 days to change the settings. That said, we are still unclear how will the shared data effect users in the long term? What impact will it have on their privacy and security? Will other contacts also be effected in this process? These are some questions that every WhatsApp users would want to be answered!