File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic
File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

WhatsApp assures users it can’t read your messages as it forges ahead with privacy update

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Feb 19, 2021

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Popular messaging service WhatsApp said on Thursday it will go ahead with its controversial privacy policy update.

It vowed it will allow users to read it at "their own pace".

The messaging platform released fresh terms in January, with its main goal of increasing business transactions on the platform. The policy update would allow owner Facebook and its subsidiaries collect user data, including their phone number and location.

Instead of increasing business transactions, the privacy policy update ruffled feathers and sparked a global outcry that resulted in many users migrating to other messaging services such as Telegram and Signal.

The outcry made WhatsApp delay the new policy launch from February to May. It once again reiterated the update was focused on allowing users to message with businesses and would not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption.

In its latest blog post, WhatsApp said it will start reminding users to review and accept updates to keep using the messaging platform.

“As a reminder, we’re building new ways to chat or shop with a business on WhatsApp that are entirely optional. Personal messages will always be end-to-end encrypted, so WhatsApp can’t read or listen to them.

“We’ve reflected on what we could have done better here. We want everyone to know our history of defending end-to-end encryption and trust we’re committed to protecting people’s privacy and security. We’re now using our Status feature to share our values and updates directly within WhatsApp. We’ll be doing much more to make our voice clear going forward.”

WhatsApp added that it will display a banner in WhatsApp providing more information that people can read at their own pace. It has also included more information in a bid to address concerns.

“During this time, we understand some people may check out other apps to see what they have to offer. We’ve seen some of our competitors try to get away with claiming they can’t see people’s messages - if an app doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default that means they can read your messages. Other apps say they’re better because they know even less information than WhatsApp. We believe people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data. We strive to be thoughtful on the decisions we make and we’ll continue to develop new ways of meeting these responsibilities with less information, not more.”


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