New WhatsApp privacy update allows data sharing with Facebook
- Usage and log information
- Device and connection information
- Location information
Although WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, the app has temporary access to users’ messages and shared media via a loophole. The policy states,
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. The following scenarios describe circumstances where we may store your messages in the course of delivering them:
- Undelivered Messages. If a message cannot be delivered immediately (for example, if the recipient is offline), we keep it in encrypted form on our servers for up to 30 days as we try to deliver it. If a message is still undelivered after 30 days, we delete it.
- Media Forwarding. When a user forwards media within a message, we store that media temporarily in encrypted form on our servers to aid in more efficient delivery of additional forwards.
This WhatsApp privacy update is released at the time when Facebook’s personalized ads business model based on collecting users’ data is under threat by an upcoming iOS 14 ATT privacy update which will allow users to opt-out of app tracking across third-party apps and website on their smartphones. Human and digital rights organization and Facebook employees question the social media platform ad campaign against Apple’s privacy update.
Furthermore, the social media company faces lawsuits by 46 states and federal regulators for anticompetitive behavior in the United States which are seeking to “unwound” the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp by Facebook. Personally, Facebook appears to be tone-deaf to public sentiment in support of stronger privacy features and is doing the opposite by releasing invasive updates like the new WhatsApp privacy update.