WhatsApp Privacy: A leaky oil barrel



Nothing is worse than being surveilled without one’s knowledge. Threats to data privacy are growing exponentially. Our habits, preferences, and site are tracked and picked up by companies looking to supply most relevant information to your queries, systematic advertising campaigns, products, tracking your GPS and other devices which is eventually shared with third parties. It looks like the internet is not a safe space anymore. The internet is full of discussions about WhatsApp privacy policy, and a lot is being said about it. Like any app or social media platform, WhatsApp is also targeted by unethical hackers. The app has access to your contacts and can track where and how long you use it, putting your privacy, personal space and personal information at risk. In an era where WhatsApp is one of the most prominent communication sources, privacy is a major concern.


What is the Fuss About?

As we know that users have until February 8 to read and agree to the new terms of WhatsApp which have also created havoc in the whole cyber world. Failure to do so would lead to your WhatsApp account being deleted. The main deal is to link it with Facebook’s by-products, grant scope for increased interaction with businesses, and gather financial data from users. Moreover, the app has also added a section called “Transaction and Payments Data” to pushing the FB giant intelligently providing you plethora of payment methods for the goods you texted about.


Below are some key changes:

· Inclusion with Facebook

The updated policy talks about WhatsApp sending you marketing material about Facebook companies. Which means, after integrating. Instagram and bringing Whatsapp for billions, though they stated in their policies that they do not wish to share any ads on it, however, it later replaces the whole idea hinting towards a possibility of ads aiming for inclusions which enable you to attach your WhatsApp experiences with other Facebook Company apps and products”. The main difference is the type of information being shared with Facebook. According to the new policy, other information linked with Facebook includes the user’s browser history, language, time zone, IP address and mobile network. The phone’s battery level, signal strength and connection information — such as your internet service provider — will also be shared.

· Business Policy

WhatsApp also launched WhatsApp Business, which permits business accounts to contact and communicate with customers. This includes making purchases through the app, or businesses contacting you, sending you order confirmations, flight tickets, etc. Although chats between you and a Business are end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp further says that it will be subject to the business account’s own privacy practices once the message is received. For example, a third party may read your chats on behalf of the business you are talking to. Furthermore, third-party services you use inside WhatsApp may be able to get some of your information such as IP address or contact details. However, these changes might not affect the users suddenly but may come in the way in the longer run.


LJCS: Legal Journal for Contemporary Society


What is End to End Encryption?

Encryption is a system where data is scrambled so that only authorised parties or accounts can understand the given algorithm. In easy terms, encryption acknowledges readable data and alters it so that it appears anonymous. This encrypted data is protected by an encryption key which reveals the coded data and turns it back into its original form. Also, there is an end to end encryption. End-to-end encryption is a technological gift we currently have, breaking down the complexities in simpler terms. It communicates the message between the recipients in an encrypted form, eventually only allowing the user’s access to the information they are sharing maintaining privacy.


Whatsapp and Its Biased Paradigm

The title might have created a cluster of thoughts and questions in your mind. Is WhatsApp biased? Does Whatsapp discriminate among its users? The answer is a big YES! Compared to consumers of Europe and North America, WhatsApp has always discriminated. While the whole of the world will have to comply with the WhatsApp’s new policy, Europe, on the other hand, will not share its data with Facebook. Europe has tougher laws to protect user privacy, and European user’s data is inviolable, and playing with it can be financially punitive. The same goes for the US as well. 46 of the 50 states in the US have engaged in an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook that intends to dig deeper into explaining how Facebook stores and shares user data between its various platforms and third party users. Due to such strict scrutiny, WhatsApp and other social platforms do not engage in user privacy.

However, the sad part is, despite being the largest market for WhatsApp with over 400 million users, India has to comply with all the privacy policies without even questioning a bit of it. However, why is that so? It is because India lacks when it comes to Data Protection laws. India does not have one single data protection law. If India had one, we would not be complying with such policies today.


Data Privacy in India: A Mere Folklore

No part of the Indian legislature mentions data privacy or online data privacy in specific, and it does nothing to make sure the safety of knowledge of the individuals online. It all thus depends on the precautions and safety measures taken by the providers. Although, Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Electronics and knowledge Technology, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad December 11, 2019. The bill fails to offer a transparent view on circumstances under which firstly, powers are often exercised, secondly, who can exercise the facility and thirdly, what is the procedure under which it is often done. No such thing is provided within the act.

However, the knowledge Technology Act, 2000, talks about compensation to be paid to the victim within the case of unauthorised access to data and leakage of sensitive personal information. Absence of the info protection law is a large blow to users in India. India must have a legal framework that meets the legal and public expectations to prevail within the jurisdictions from which data is being shipped to India. In practical terms, India’s most important hurdle is to possess its framework of domestic data protection laws officially adjudged and publicly perceived as adequate.


Conclusion

Yes, there was a reason why the dictionary of the internet has a popular word , Web. 
Security of data is one of the crucial persuading factors after user interference and social adaptability. The most baffling fact is that each data is stored on online clouds and platforms owned by many gigantic corporations. What this suggests for the many users is that they do not own the info they created in the least meaning the info of each individual is simply lying about within the servers and databases of those large corporations. Such organisations claim that this data is under heavy security, and guarded by privacy policies, but the scene is simply opposite. Otherwise, with increasing technology penetration into our everyday lives, data security is nothing but a worldwide myth.
-Prakriti Parashar
2nd Year, ICFAI

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4 Comments

  1. Very Informative. The writer has profound wisdom ♥️

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! So enlightening!
    I am so lucky I know the writer personally. πŸ₯ΊπŸ‘‰πŸ‘ˆ

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very Informative and good articulation.

    ReplyDelete
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