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The updated policy terms were first announced via an in-app notification to users of WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, asking them to agree to the new terms or lose access to their accounts by February 8th. When both users and privacy activists set off the alarm, WhatsApp made it clear that the changes are needed to support businesses through WhatsApp Business, which the company launched in 2018 to make it easier for businesses to communicate with customers.
“We are now postponing the date when people will be asked to review and accept the terms. Nobody will have their account blocked or deleted on February 8th. We’ll also be doing a lot more to clear up the misinformation about how privacy and security work on WhatsApp. We will then gradually reach out to employees to review the guidelines at their own pace before new business options become available on May 15, ”WhatsApp said in a blog update on Friday.
The Facebook factor
The updated policy terms informed users that WhatApp is receiving and sharing information with the Facebook family of companies. These changes focused on introducing new options for companies using WhatsApp Business.
Limited information from WhatsApp is already shared with Facebook. However, the changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service made in 2016 have not been significantly updated.
A key issue raised by data protection professionals when WhatsApp updated the guidelines was that the messaging platform introduced separate data protection and data sharing guidelines for Europe and India. For this reason, the call for rapid implementation of the data protection law in India has been renewed. India’s data protection law, the cornerstone of which was laid by a committee that released a report in 2018, has yet to be turned into law. It is currently being examined by a parliamentary committee.
As of July 2020, the company had more than 50 million WhatsApp Business users worldwide, of whom over 15 million were using the service in India every month. When Facebook announced a $ 5.7 billion investment in Reliance Industries’ Jio platforms in April last year, WhatsApp and Reliance Retail entered into a commercial partnership agreement to bring small businesses to the JioMart e-commerce platform via the Support messaging platform.
WhatsApp’s announcement on January 4th informing users of their new policy began with “Respect for your privacy is coded in our DNA”. This phrase was previously used literally by the co-founder of the messaging platform, Jan Koum, who had left the company for various uses of user data.
“Respect for your privacy is anchored in our DNA. We developed WhatsApp with the aim of knowing as little as possible about you: you don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know what you like, what you are looking for on the internet, or what your GPS location is. None of this data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that, ”Koum wrote after Facebook’s $ 16 billion buyout of WhatsApp.