WhatsApp and its "Forced Consent": users report concern about update

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It is no secret: WhatsApp has been part of the Facebook constellation since 2014, just like Instagram or Giphy. But this fusion, initially relatively discreet in its specific applications, today acquires a much more intrusive dimension. Initially, as of February 8, the new WhatsApp privacy policy would take effect: "The purpose of this update is to authorize the exchange of data of the users of the messaging service with Facebook."

However, WhatsApp announced on Friday that it would postpone changes to its terms of service for three months after concerns expressed by many users that the mobile messaging service would share sensitive data with its parent company, Facebook.

"We are now pushing back the date that users will have to review and agree to the terms," the company said in a blog post. The changes, which were supposed to go into effect on February 8, would not go into effect until May 15.

But the concern remains. It is a take it or leave it: the WhatsApp user must accept on that date or they will simply not be able to access their account.

What data exactly?

In its official blog, WhatsApp defines the nature of these data exchanges: "The information we share with other Facebook entities includes your account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data (Facebook Stores and others e-commerce functions), information related to services, information about how you interact with others, including companies, when you use our Services, information on your mobile device, your IP address and may include other information identified in the section of the Policy of privacy entitled "Information We Collect", or obtained after notifying you or based on your consent, "said the instant messaging system service that has more than 2 billion users.

According to Facebook, the changes made to internal regulations allow it to develop a strategy presented in October, aimed at making its messaging application geared towards corporate customer service. The group seeks to monetize its platform by allowing advertisers to contact their customers through WhatsApp, or even sell their products directly there, as is already the case in India.

Different conditions in Europe?

The content of the messages remains encrypted and will not be affected by these changes. But the new conditions differ between the European Union and the rest of the world. In the case of the EU and the UK, they will only be used to extend the functionality offered to WhatsApp Business accounts, the company said. "WhatsApp does not share the data of its users in Europe with Facebook in order for Facebook to use it to improve its products or its ads," said a spokesman for the messaging system.

"Forced consent"

"If the only way to reject (this modification) is to stop using WhatsApp, then consent is forced and the processing of personal data is illegal," Arthur Messaud, a lawyer for the association for the defense of users of Internet in France.

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