What does the new WhatsApp privacy policy update mean for users?

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What does the new WhatsApp privacy policy update mean for users
  • One-to-one chat to remain encrypted
  • Digital expert Usama Khilji warns that users’ information will be used for Facebook ads
  • WhatsApp and Facebook will be able to access group chats 

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy has stirred a storm among users across the world with many deleting the messaging service because of the rules.

Geo Pakistan reached out to digital rights expert Usama Khilji to explain the impact of the new policy.

Khilji, who is also a director at digital rights organisation Bolo Bhi, said that one-to-one conversations between users will “remain encrypted”.

However, he explained WhatsApp will now provide “some information” to its parent company Facebook.

Khilji said WhatsApp will now be able to share a user’s status, mobile being used, internet and the phone number and IP address being used by an account.

“They will use this information to target you through Facebook ads,” said the Bolo Bhi director.

What can one do to remain protected?

As a starter, Khilji urged the audience to provide as less information as they can on the platform.

“Try that you do not put much on WhatsApp status and if you want to protect your identity do not put your picture on WhatsApp,” said the digital rights activist.

For users who wish to remain private, Khilji suggested they avoid putting their real names on the app and use a pseudonym. He believed that this way the messaging service will have the “least information” about the user.

“You should also know that WhatsApp and Facebook can see which group you are a member of and who else is a member,” said Khilji, adding that the companies will not be able to see the information in the chat.

The Bolo Bhi director warned that if a person is using a WhatsApp for Business account “then that information can also be shown to a third party apart from the business and the user”.

Seek strict privacy policy

The hosts also asked Khilji about the prospects of the government developing its platforms similar to WhatsApp.

To this, Khilji responded that whoever makes the platform at the end of the day “information will go to companies and governments”. He added that they will use that data for their benefit.

“Whichever company gets our data, they use it for themselves as much as they can, they sell it or use it for surveillance when it comes to the government,” said Khilji.

The digital rights activist said it does not matter who owns the company, but instead, people should “push for a privacy policy that is strict”.

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