WhatsApp Updates: New Privacy Policy, Terms of Service

WhatsApp Messenger, is an American freeware, cross-platform messaging, and Voice over IP (VoIP) service owned by Facebook, Inc. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, makes voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media with encryption too.

On 5th Jan 2021 – Tuesday, WhatsApp started to rollout in-app notifications to users informing an update in its Terms of Service and privacy policy. The Notification displays as “WhatsApp is updating its terms and privacy policy,” read the notification sent out to both Android and iOS users. The notification further says, “By tapping on Agree, you accept the new terms and privacy policy, which take effect on 8 February 2021. After this date, you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp”. This means, unless you accept the new policies and terms, you will not use the application.

The Key Updates are displayed in the notification, which includes, how WhatsApp processes user data, how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats, and how the company partners with Facebook integrations across the Facebook Company Product.

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WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy and terms of service provide additional information on how the app collects and handles user data in terms of changes. There are new sections including Transactions and Payments Data and 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 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 ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent,” WhatsApp noted in a dedicated FAQ section detailing the information it shares with Facebook’s companies.

On WhatsApp’s website, to reveal the specific of how it processes user data, the company says, “when a user forwards media within a message, we store that media temporarily in encrypted form on our servers to aid in the more efficient delivery of additional forwards.” In terms updates, WhatsApp maintains. “We do not retain your messages in the ordinary course of providing our Services to you. Instead, your messages are stored on your device and not typically stored on our servers. Once your messages are delivered, they are deleted from our servers.”

“If any of your contacts aren’t yet using our Services, we’ll manage this information for you in a way that ensures we cannot identify those contacts”, says WhatsApp Officials

In the update, WhatsApp also talks about payments and transactions. The Notice says, “If you use our payments services, or use our Services meant for purchases or other financial transactions, we process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information. Payment account and transaction information include information needed to complete the transaction (for example, information about your payment method, shipping details, and transaction amount). If you use our payments services available in your country or territory, our privacy practices are described in the applicable payments privacy policy.”

The updated privacy policy and terms of service will come into force on February 8, 2021, and the Facebook-owned company informed users through the notice on its app.  Users have the choice to opt for ‘Not now’ when the in-app notification, however, the deadline to read and accept the terms is 8 February 2021. After that date, users will either have to accept the notification or stop using the app.