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Whatsapp says new privacy policies not going anywhere

WhatsApp forced its new privacy policies on us causing a widespread furore. To the extent that users started switching to alternatives t...

WhatsApp forced its new privacy policies on us causing a widespread furore. To the extent that users started switching to alternatives that offered data privacy. Though the Facebook-owned messenger app is holding on to its pole position, competition is stiff in the list of most downloaded apps.

Though the company tried to clarify to users that its new policies aren’t as harmful as perceived, nothing much has changed. Now, it is trying to convince users that the new policies are important for business sustainability. Which begs the question on which of the two narratives should one believe now. 

We hear now that WhatsApp will soon start showing a banner that will lead users to read more about the policy updates and try to address their concerns. Of course, in a country like India, privacy isn't exactly top of a user's agenda

Whatsapp blogged that it had missed the mark with its earlier communication over the new policies. “We’ve reflected on what we could have done better here,” and this is going to be more vocal by reaching out to each user justifying the policy updates." The moot point here is that now the company is justifying its updates, while earlier it was assuring us that they were harmless. 

The blog post further said, “We’re now using our Status feature to share our values and updates directly within WhatsApp. We’ll be doing much more to make our voice clear going forward.”

Additionally, the company is changing how the policy updates are communicated to  users. They will now display a banner with information about the new privacy policies. The blog post said, “In the coming weeks, we’ll display a banner in WhatsApp providing more information that people can read at their own pace.”

According to WhatsApp, it needs to update policies to serve its business customers better. These are the companies that use WhatsApp Business services to sell products and services to customers directly on WhatsApp, which according to WhatsApp, is quicker and convenient for the users.

New policies are here to stay

The leading messaging platform further stated that it offers the messaging services to its users for free and intends to do so forever. It stressed the point that “Personal messages will always be end-to-end encrypted, so WhatsApp can’t read or listen to them.”  It will also soon start reminding people to accept mandatory policy updates to continue using the platform. The new policy will now be effective from May 15.

The company admitted that users seeking alternatives was a result of Whatsapp's inability to communicate the policies and probably abruptly forcing users to accept them. The post also underlines that WhatsApp is both safe and reliable and that the company is confident that users will choose WhatsApp over other apps “even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data.”

Though WhatsApp has reiterated that the platform is end-to-end encrypted and it does not read personal messages, the Facebook-led messaging has been under fire from the day the policy was first announced. The Indian government has asked the company to roll back the new terms of service. 

The government's note said: “As you may be aware, the Personal Data Protection Bill, which is being discussed by a Joint Committee of the Parliament, is focused on the core value of purpose limitation in the processing of personal data. As per the changes to the WhatsApp Privacy Policy, any information shared with any Facebook Company can be used for an expansive variety of purposes, which may not be reasonably expected by users of WhatsApp.”

Even the Supreme Court has asked WhatsApp to file a written statement that it doesn’t read personal chats and has said “You may be a two or three trillion-dollar company, but protecting people’s privacy is more important."

WhatsApp had stated that the lack of user privacy law in India is the reason why it felt the update was justified as against the different privacy policy applied in the European countries that have stringent laws guarding user rights.

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Whatsapp says new privacy policies not going anywhere
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