January 11, 2021 | Design |

WhatsApp policy update: why Kenyans should be concerned about their data privacy

Millions of WhatsApp users have started receiving in-app notifications asking them to either accept its new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy by February 8, or lose access to the app. Users don’t have much of a choice so in a way WhatsApp is forcing them to agree to the new rules.

The in-app notification sent to both Android and iOS users has spread fear among millions of Kenyans who rely on the messaging app to stay in touch with friends and family or run their businesses. This has sparked fears that people’s information is not being kept secret but instead shared with Facebook. 

For many years WhatsApp has prided itself as the most secure messaging app until now WhatsApps’ commitment to data privacy and encrypting conversations has been its key feature.  

But what is the truth behind the changes, and how concerned should WhatsApp users in Kenya be?

 Well, users should be worried mainly because their data will be shared with Facebook. This is what we picked from their detailed yet confusing FAQ. 

“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, and may include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled” 

Such privacy notes often drafted by lawyers are very hard to understand. Plus this particular one doesn’t give you much of a choice, if you want to stay on the platform you have to agree to their creepy terms, they need your info for marketing purposes, it’s all about the money you know.  

What information will be collected by WhatsApp on behalf of Facebook?

Since chats are still encrypted, WhatsApp won’t be able to access your conversations. But what they will be able to access is your personal data such as your phone number, your contacts, profile picture, profile names, status messages, and your IP address.

That is a lot of personal information! and these will be shared with all the other Facebook companies. One significant recent update is that WhatsApp has added new features to allow people to communicate with businesses – and those businesses might be using WhatsApp for business apps or have Facebook business pages.

When such businesses are interacting with their clients or phone contacts, messages might be stored and managed by Facebook, and so those conversations could be shared with the company. If you don’t want to allow Facebook to do this, your only alternative is to delete the app and switch to another messaging service such as Telegram or Signal

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