News & AnalysisNewsletterSecurity

WhatsApp’s Updated Policy: A Threat to Your Personal Data?

WhatsApp's updated policy sparked criticism in the industry as a large section of smartphone users are concerned regarding data privacy.


WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging platform, is giving its 2 billion plus users an ultimatum: either you agree to share your personal data with the social network or delete your account. The update is being delivered through a popup notification and directs its users to agree to the sweeping changes in the WhatsApp terms of service. Those who refuse to accept the revamped privacy policy by February 8 will no longer be able to use the app.

Naturally this move sparked criticism in the industry as it raises serious privacy concerns. Many also see this as an abuse of WhatsApp and Facebook’s dominant position in the market.

This isn’t the first time WhatsApp is facing privacy concerns. In 2019, it became a concern world over including in India, when hackers were able to use the application to spy on targeted users using the spyware ‘Pegasus’. While in 2016, WhatsApp enabled end-to-end encryption, it faced security issues from time to time, including malware attacks, unencrypted backups and for hoaxes and Fake News.

This time, the user privacy scenario may be a bigger concern as the updated terms and policy does not give WhatsApp users the choice to not share information with Facebook.

In terms of changes, WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy and terms of service provide additional information on how the app collects and handles user data. There are new sections including Transactions and Payments Data as well as Location Information to provide details on precise data collection by the app. WhatsApp has also included specific information on business interactions taking place through its messaging app.

“The information we share with other Facebook Companies includes your  account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using our Services, mobile device information, your IP address, and may include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent,” WhatsApp noted in an FAQ section.

Facebook has been working to integrate services across Facebook (the social platform), FB Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg announced in October 2020. While the social networking major has come under increasing pressure from regulators as it tries to integrate its services, its Instagram and Messenger are already integrated. With the new policy update, Facebook can enjoy a much bigger profit as all these data from WhatsApp will go to Facebook and without a doubt WhatsApp can monetize its services too.

However, raising serious security concerns, Arthur Messaud, a lawyer for La Quadrature du net, an association that defends internet users, told news agency AFP that the update was unlawfully forcing users to agree to the breach of their data if they wanted to keep using the messaging service. “If the only way to refuse (the modification) is to stop using WhatsApp, the consent is forced as the use of personal data is illegal,” he said.

Experts opine other messaging apps, such as Signal and Telegram that are popular for their encrypted services, may see a rise due to this recent move, and perhaps the basic short message service (SMS) may also dominate the scene.

Leave a Response

Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at