In a recent update to its terms and conditions of use, WhatsApp said that from February 8th 2021, some of the user data will be stored or tracked by the parent company Facebook and/or its affiliates for the purpose of providing personalized services. And making the conditions more coercive in nature, WhatsApp made them non-negotiable – that is if users are not willing to accept them, then they are no longer welcome to use the service anymore.
This has led to a huge backlash in the online world wherein some of the prominent individuals including the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have openly criticised Facebook & WhatsApp while promoting rival platforms such as Telegram & Signal.
However, this hasn’t really assuaged the concerns of the users. Data privacy experts point out that the changes to the terms & conditions will now explicitly allow the messaging app to provide its parent company Facebook with a lot more private data, which can then exploit the same for commercial purposes. The interlinking of Facebook & WhatsApp for the purpose of making purchases will have its own ramifications, exposing critical information to third parties.
Several governments, including the government of India, have taken cognizance of the new terms & conditions, and are undertaking a careful study to ensure data privacy for its citizens. There are nuances involved that have great implications, and the government will take some time to clearly study and understand how it affects the citizens, a government source told the Financial Express.