WhatsApp Privacy Policy Update 2021

By Ronak Patel   |   8 January, 2021
WhatsApp Privacy Policy Update 2021

It had barely been a few days since all of us had transitioned into the new year. Suddenly, on the morning of 5th January 2021 Tuesday, a notification popped up for many users of WhatsApp stating “Updation of its privacy policy,” Most of them didn’t even bother to read the terms conditions and just accepted it. Moreover, the remaining users received the notification on Wednesday, 6th January 2021. And there is no way to get out of it. This was the older version of privacy policy ‘Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA. Since we started WhatsApp, we’ve aspired to build our Services with a set of strong privacy principles in mind’ – WhatsApp

Now users are being given the deadline to accept the new terms and conditions until 8th February 2021; if you don’t accept the policy, you risk your access to Whatsapp. It’s like, ” You are using our service, and you have to accept our terms and conditions to use our service”. So it’s your choice whether you would like to protect or sell your personal information. If, luckily, you are one of those who have not accepted the terms and conditions yet, let’s dive straight into it to understand how policy changes will affect you. And if you are one of those who have already accepted the terms and conditions without reading, then sit tight and read what Whatsapp asked permissions, and you gave it to them.

What Data will be collected?

WhatsApp Privacy Policy Notification

This is the message which appeared on Whatsapp to accept its new policy. So what is this new policy update? Under the new terms and condition, Whatsapp would be sharing the following data

  1. Location data,
  2. IP addresses,
  3. Phone model,
  4. OS,
  5. Battery level,
  6. Signal strength,
  7. Browser,
  8. Mobile network,
  9. ISP, language,
  10. Time zone, and even IMEI.


Wait, don’t go anywhere the above information is still incomplete. Here is a list of personal information being fetched by various popular messaging apps.  – Source: 9to5

App privacy labels messaging apps

Why worry more?

On top of the above data, WhatsApp would also be sharing your Calling and messaging data, Profile Picture, groups you have joined, and the last time you were online. –  gsmarena The Privacy Policy changes also mentioned that all the above information will be stored in the global data centers, including data centers in the US.

Well, Whatsapp was the only platform that was without ads but soon that would be changing. Whatsapp had previously denied allowing ads to be played on Whatsapp. But they also mentioned that if they do allow to introduce ads into Whatsapp, they will change the privacy policy. “Deleting your Whatsapp account might not necessarily mean that your data is wiped out from the Data Centers. It might still store the information which you shared while interacting with the groups or the information that other users have” states the policy. You will have to dig deeper if you want to remove all your data from Whatsapp.

Once you have accepted the privacy policy and interact with the business, you need to be extra careful. Why? Because your conversation with the business would be visible to all the users of the business. Here the matter of concern the business you have communicated with might give access to the data to third-party providers, which can store or send or manage the data for the business. Risky Isn’t it? . – gadgetnow

Many experts have shown their concern regarding the new update. On the flip side, A Whatsapp Spokesperson mentioned that users will still control their data sharing and conversation. Users will be able to block the business if they wish to by blocking the business. But would it be useful? What do you think? One of the expert Deepak Abbot, cofounder of digital gold loans provider Indiagold and former Paytm growth chief told inc42 that instead of forcing users to accept the latest privacy policy, it should allow the users to opt out of certain services if they don’t accept the terms and conditions. Abbott further elaborated the issue, saying that users, while communicating on Facebook, are aware that they are reaching a larger audience. As a result, they are exposed to public information. But if you come across an advertisement on Facebook relating to your financial information, then it would feel like a privacy breach which can be associated with ” Your friend stabbing in your back”.

Facebook Acquiring Whatsapp

Since Facebook acquired Whatsapp in 2014, we are fortunate enough to opt-out of data sharing of Whatsapp with Facebook. Not anymore, though, as this time, users are forced to accept Whatsapp privacy policy. This is not the first time Whatsapp came with such a policy, in 2018, it came up with changes to its privacy policy. But later on it went on clarifying that Whatsapp did not mean to use Whatsapp payment information for commercial purposes. It only shared the necessary information with the bank partner and NPCI. In some cases Whatsapp also shared the information with its customer support to keep the payments safe and secured. – inc42.

Secured Is It?

Before you say yes or no, let’s go through the past data breaches of Facebook. Facebook anyways, has faced the wrath of the people in the past and has been in the headlines due to all the wrong reasons.

Facebook Data Breaches

June 2013- 6 Million Users

In June 2013, Facebook found out that a bug has been exposing the personal information like phone numbers and email addresses of the users to unauthorized viewers for more than a year. As a result whoever knew the person or had any piece of information about the user had the access to complete information of the user.

May 2018- 14 Million Users

A technical glitch in a system in May 2018 caused private posts of 14 million users to be shared publicly without their knowledge and consent.

September 2018- 14 Million Users

Nearly after 3 months Facebook was rocked by another data breach. They publicly announced that nearly 50 to 90 million people had been compromised and their personal information was leaked to attackers who had complete access of their profile.

Still wondering whether to keep or uninstall Whatsapp.

2019 was the year of bonus we can say for Facebook users.

March 2019-600 Million Users

In March 2019, Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs reported that Facebook was storing hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text files that were accessible by over 2000 employees of Facebook. To much surprise, some records dated back to 2012.

April 2019-540 Million Users

In April 2019, researchers at security firm Upguard found out that hundreds of millions of Facebook user records were placed on public server. Mexican Company Cultura Colectiva hosted the server, and the server was secured months later. In May 2016, Facebook asked users to verify their email addresses by entering the password related to that email address, and when the user did that, it gained access to the email and email list. Facebook managed to gain access to information of 1.5 million email addresses. Later on, it said that it would delete the email contacts list, and the data was accessible by the Staff members of Facebook.

September 2019-419 Million Users

The data of 419 million Facebook was sitting on an exposed server. Did it ring the bell? April 2019. The information stored had the Facebook id and the phone number stored with it. For some users, names, gender, and location information was also exposed. The server was not owned by Facebook and was taken down.

December 2019-309 Million Users

The end of the year, as well, all try to end the year with a bang. Facebook succeeded in ending the year with a bang. More than 300 million Facebook user phone numbers, names, and user IDs were left unprotected on the dark web for nearly two weeks, which was discovered by Bob Diachenko, a Security expert. – selfkey

What could be done?

Did you know that Facebook had to adhere to a strict set of GDPR privacy policies to operate in the European Union? European Union takes the privacy of users very seriously. Since the UK was not a part of the European Union anymore, Facebook redesigned the privacy policy that adhered to UK guidelines.UK guidelines mirrored the EU guidelines, and many experts were concerned that the UK might give away some leverage later in terms of data policy guidelines that would benefit companies like Facebook. According to livemint, there were 2 billion Whatsapp users worldwide. What if another breach occurs? Could you imagine how much personal information of users, including you and me, would leak on the dark web? If the European Union can formulate strict guidelines relating to data security and companies have to obey the rules, why not the rest of the world could formulate such policies? Why are companies dictating its terms and conditions to users if they want to use their services? And What happened to Whatsapp goal of “as little as possible” which was after Facebook acquired Whatsapp in 2014? – gsmarena

Latest Update on Whatsapp Privacy Policy Rollout

In a major update on Whatsapp Privacy Policy Update Fiasco, Whatsapp has been asked by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology( MEITY) has written to Will Cathcart to withdraw its latest privacy policy rollout which was supposed to happen on February 8th, 2021. But as the users grilled Whatsapp on social media, it was forced to address the issue and it announced on 16th January 2021 that it will push back its date of compulsory rolling out new Policy Updates to May 15th, 2021.Whatsapp added stories to its user base which provided more clarity and information on its latest privacy policy.
The impact was such that Whatsapp users had already started to switch to other Chat Messaging Apps like Signal and Telegram.

Now Whastapp’s latest policy update rollout on May 15th has hit another roadblock as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has asked the CEO of Facebook’s Owned messaging app to provide responses to queries raised by the Government of India. The Ministry questioned Whatsapp’s intent to share users’ metadata of “chat with the business account” with other Facebook companies citing security concerns.
MEITY even showed its dissentient towards Whatsapp’s “all or nothing” approach that leaves no choice for users but to accept its Privacy policy in order to use its service.

Ministry further questioned the timing of rolling out Whatsapp’s latest privacy policy update as Parliament is already working on proposing a new bill ” Personal Data Protection Bill”. “This Bill, which is at an advance stage of consideration by the Joint Select Committee of both houses of the Parliament strongly follows the principle of “purpose limitation” with regard to the data processing”. What this means is companies can use the data of users only for a specific purpose which is collected with the consent of the users? In Addition, the Ministry also slammed Whatsapp for differentiating its policies for the EU and India. This is what it said, “Given that India has the largest user base for WhatsApp in the world, this discriminatory treatment to Indian users shows lack of respect for interests of Indian citizens by WhatsApp”.

Finally, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology sent a list of 14 questions to Whatsapp seeking their response and clarity on their privacy policy:

1.Disclose the exact categories of data that the WhatsApp application collects from Indian users.

2.Give details of the permissions and user consent sought by the WhatsApp app and the utility of each of these with
respect to the functioning and specific service provided.

3.Does WhatsApp conduct profiling of Indian users on the basis of their usage of the application? What nature of
profiling is conducted?

4.Details of difference between WhatsApp privacy policies in other countries and India.

5.Details of Data Security Policy, Information Security Policy, Cyber Security Policy, Privacy Policy, and Encryption

6.Does the WhatsApp app share data with any other app or business unit of the same company or associated companies?
Share details of the data flow among these apps, business units, or associated companies.

7.Does the WhatsApp app capture the information about the other apps running on the mobile device of the user? If
yes, what information is being captured by the app and what purpose is it being collected and used?

8.Details about the server when data of Indian users is transmitted or hosted.

9.Has the company or application provided any access to a third party to access a user’s personal data? If yes, then
share those details.


Get in Touch!

Ronak Patel

Ronak Patel is a CEO and Founder of Aglowid IT Solutions, an ever-emerging Top Web and Mobile Development company with a motto of turning clients into successful businesses. He believes that Client's success is company's success and so that he always makes sure that Aglowid helps their client's business to reach to its true potential with the help of his best team with the standard development process he set up for the company.

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