New WhatsApp Rules that Require Data Sharing with Facebook

WhatsApp announced this week that it is mandatory to share data of its users with Facebook, owner of the messaging application.

Those who do not agree with the change, according to the notification sent by the platform, are invited to delete the app and disable the account.

“Privacy policy and terms of service updates are common in the industry, and we are informing users well in advance to review the changes, which will take effect on February 8,” a Facebook spokesman told the media.

“All users must accept the new conditions if they want to continue using WhatsApp,” he added.

The European Union and the United Kingdom, however, will be exceptions. Due to agreements signed with data protection organizations in the region, the company will not impose information sharing – which was interpreted by some to be a victory for the strict privacy and personal data protection legislation that the region has been implementing in recent years.

The measure generated a wave of criticism and provocations. Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested moving to competitor Signal. Others proposed Telegram.

What data will be shared?
According to Facebook new conditions “will allow additional information to be shared between WhatsApp and Facebook and other applications like Instagram and Messenger”. This includes profile data, but not the content of messages, which continue to be encrypted, depending on the company.

On its platform, WhatsApp details the range of information that can be made available to other companies in the group: phone number and other data that appear in the register (such as name); phone information, including brand, model and mobile phone company; the IP number, which indicates the location of the internet connection; any payment or financial transaction made through WhatsApp.

Contact numbers, status updates, data on user activity in the application (such as time of use or when it is online), profile photo, among others, can also be shared.

After the announcement, the number of downloads of the Signal app, also an encrypted message exchange service, skyrocketed. In addition to Musk, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, also recommended using an app to circumvent the forced consent imposed by Facebook.

The Sensor Tower data analysis platform reported that more than 100,000 people had installed it, while Telegram recorded almost 2.2 million downloads.

The volume of WhatsApp downloads, in turn, fell 11% in the first seven days of 2021 compared to the previous week.

After initial confusion over changing rules for users in Europe, who also received notifications of updates to the privacy policy, Facebook issued a statement on Thursday (7/01) to clarify that it would not be valid for the “European region” , which covers the European Union, the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom.

“To avoid any doubts, it is still valid that WhatsApp does not share the data of its users in the European region with Facebook,” reinforced a spokesman for the company.

According to the platform, the exception is due to negotiations signed with European organizations dedicated to data protection – for some, a direct result of the tightening of privacy and protection of personal data legislation underway in recent years.

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