Whatsapp Users Risk Losing Access in New Policy

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    A phone user scrolling through the Whatsapp app
  • Whatsapp users risk losing access to their accounts in new privacy rules introduced by the parent company, Facebook. A pop-up notification on Whatsapp requests users to either agree or decline to the new terms by February 8. 

    The new policy has asked users to accept sharing their data with Facebook if they want to continue using the free app. Those who decline by pressing the 'not now' button are directed to delete their accounts. 

    Most Whatsapp users have subscribed to the policy, hitting the 'agree' button without reading the terms and conditions stipulated. 

    Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg said that they were upgrading to offer better services to consumers. 

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru during a trip to Kenya in 2016
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru during a trip to Kenya in 2016

    Reports allege that the social network wants to integrate Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram apps into one platform. 

    On the Whatsapp website, the company has made changes to policies surrounding data sharing, removing the option of allowing users to opt-out of sharing personal information with Facebook for the first 30 days. 

    They also included a section titled "Transactions and Payments Data' and 'Location Information'.

    Another section clarifies, 'What information does WhatsApp share with the Facebook Companies?', explaining that it currently shares certain categories of information with Facebook Companies.

    "The information we share with the 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, which 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 says. 

    Users will receive marketing and promotional material about Facebook companies from time to time. 

    Bright Gameli Mawudor, a Cyber Security engineer and researcher based in Nairobi weighed in on the debate centred around data privacy which has elicited mixed reaction globally.

    "Personally, I will still use Whatsapp as I don't have anything to hide from the US government. 

    "I mean privacy is already dead (already infringed) and so much information has been shared. You can use Signal or Telegram if you engage in conversations surrounding national security. Otherwise, just use Whatsapp," he posted on Instagram. 

    A file image of a woman using a phone.
    A model illustration of a lady using a phone in an image dated 2019.
    Simon Kiragu