New Whatsapp Privacy Policy Raises Eyebrows In Kashmir, People Switching

by Farzana Nisar

SRINAGAR: The updated privacy policy of messaging service giant WhatsApp has raised apprehensions among users in the Valley leading many users to switch to other similar applications.

Asif Ahmad, a resident of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, Wednesday switched from WhatsApp to Telegram after he received an in-app notification detailing the changes.

“Nobody ever wishes his details to be shared across other platforms. I am a businessman. I often have to share my financial details with other clients. So, I have uninstalled the app,” Asif said.

“I have advised the same to my friends and family members,” he added.

He said his decision to switch was a result of a discussion with his friends.

“This is a serious privacy issue. The data collected by them will be shared to Facebook and seems that later on they can share it with government agencies as well,” Asif said.

Four days ago, Facebook-owned WhatsApp updated terms of service and privacy policy. Under the new terms and conditions, WhatsApp would share transaction data, mobile device information, IP addresses, and other data on how users interact with businesses on WhatsApp and with Facebook group companies, including Instagram.

The updated privacy policy would be implemented on February 8, and by then, users would have to accept these conditions to be able to continue using the instant messaging platform. Users who choose not to accept these changes would not be able to use WhatsApp from February 8 onwards.

Ever since then this revised policy has been irking users with many people switching to other messaging apps.

The company has also received flak from Kashmir, with many people concerned about their privacy.

Many netizens see this move as an addendum to the already existing digital scrutiny in fear prevalent in the Kashmir valley.

Another WhatsApp user said, “The new terms and conditions have made it evident that everything that goes on WhatsApp will be shared across multiple servers including one’s personal and sensitive data like pictures, videos, text clips etc.”

“Also the encryption on Whatsapp is compromised. This affects everyone, especially Kashmiris, given the current scenario where a perfect monitoring system is helpful to the state,” the user added before bidding goodbye to WhatsApp.

Abdul Mukeet, a journalist working with a local news-portal, also feels that the updated Whatsapp terms are “breach” of user’s privacy.

He said the journalists now need to be aware of the potential repercussions of what they share through the app.

“Big brother surveillance is not a new concept and with WhatsApp making it mandatory to accept their terms of conditions we have basically become a marketing tool for them. Our private information is up for grabs,” he said.

“Journalism in Kashmir is a tough job but now with our diagnostic data, transactional data and even our usage data being shared with Facebook its is an altogether invasion of our privacy,” he said.

“I don’t understand how there is no outcry on it. Right now the best thing for journalists is to be to switch to better privacy providing messaging platforms like Signal. Something even endorsed by billionaire Elon Musk.”

WhatsApp has also updated its privacy policies on its website and given a detailed overview of how the app will change.

“Our Services have optional features which, if used by you, require us to collect additional information to provide such features. You will be notified of such a collection, as appropriate. If you choose not to provide the information needed to use a feature, you will be unable to use the feature. For example, you cannot share your location with your contacts if you do not permit us to collect your location data from your device. Permissions can be managed through your Settings menu on both Android and iOS devices,” WhatsApp wrote.

People worldwide took to micro-blogging platform Twitter to express their dismay on the new policy with the hashtag “#WhatsappNewPolicy” becoming the trending feature today.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here