Throughout the years, WhatsApp use has become essential in the day-to-day affairs of the people, children, adults or senior citizens, Corporate or Government entities and even Judicial functionaries. With WhatsApp, one will get fast, simple and free messaging and calling facility available on smart phones, all over the globe. WhatsApp is an effectual alternative means for SMS and has grown its root deep into our daily lives. According to the data reports, over 2 billion people through more than 180 countries use WhatsApp to keep in touch with work, friends, and family. The app supports sending and receiving a wide range of media other than texts and calls i.e. pictures, videos, documents, live location as well as voice notes.
The fact that WhatsApp has become a significant mode of communication and is being used to aide multiple Governmental functions cannot be denied. The usage of this app has been increased even more due to the ongoing pandemic. Irrespective of being a private entity, WhatsApp is discharging a Public Function. The service provider application is being used by various Corporations, Government and private authorities to carry out their daily tasks. Even the Supreme Court of India has allowed the service of summons via electronic mode which includes WhatsApp. In the prevalent trying times of COVID-19, confidential proceedings, such as that of the mediations and Conciliation and other court proceedings and functions are being conducted through WhatsApp only.
WHAT INFORMATION IS BEING SHARED?
The update does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook. It does not impact the private communication between people which means that the end-to-end encryption remains intact and no third party can read them.However, what WhatsApp may share is information related to a person’s phone number, transaction data, service-related information, mobile device information, and IP address among other types of metadata which are essentially everything beyond the actual text of the conversation as all of these are linked to our identity.
IDEA BEHIND THE MOVE
The earlier policy gave the reasons for the data-sharing with Facebook to ensure better security and fighting spam to improve user’s experience. But the new policy aims at a deeper integration of WhatsApp into the Facebook group of companies with a cross-platform vision across Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp called as interoperability.Direct Messages facility on Instagram and Messenger on Facebook have already been integrated and Facebook wishes to bring more services to WhatsApp, with added features.
WHY DOES FACEBOOK WANT THE DATA?
Facebook aims to operate and improve its offerings to its users. Facebook, in the third quarter of 2020 generated revenue of $21.5 billion from ads displayed, and it noticed that there were none in WhatsApp. Thus, they want to serve more targeted ads to people by knowing their usage habits on WhatsApp as done on Facebook and Instagram. This will help them increase their turnover.
According to the statement given WhatsApp companies and business will be benefitted from the same as they will be able to use new tools to communicate with the customers and increase their sales via Facebook’s platform. As far as the messages exchanged between a user and a company are concerned, that business know what a person is saying and can use that information for its marketing purposes, including advertising on Facebook. However, the people fearing the invasion of their privacy have switched to other messaging apps like iMessage, telegram or signal. So, in this case the actual or other beneficiaries include rival services which rely on donations rather than advertisers for money for their operation and which the people find user-friendly and safe.
Thus, what is important is that India should have a data protection law in place so that WhatsApp could not have been able to go ahead with this update at first. We live in a Digital India where there are commercial, social and personal interests which have to be balanced and should be protected because life of fear, anxiety, and tension is not a free life.
‘Why WhatsApp’s new policy rules sparking alarm? https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-11/why-whatsapp-s-privacy-rules-sparked-moves-to-rivals-quicktake accessed on 16th January, 2020; 10:20 pm