WhatsApp’s new privacy terms gives it a right to share user data such as Profile ID, phone number, location, contact lists including meta-data with Facebook and its units such as Instagram and Messenger. WhatsApp has been sharing user information with Facebook since 2016 which is used for targeted advertising. The change in policy reflects the ability of WhatsApp to share meta-data with Facebook.
Meta-data means data of data such as profile status, photograph, IP address, signal strength, battery strength, device ID, location, chat with business, financial information, purchases. This data is linked to your identity and used for profiling you such as your likes, dislikes, political preferences, sexual leanings, etc. Such profiling can then be used by Facebook or its affiliates to serve ads or give friend suggestions, which are the lesser harmful usage as it may merely have intrusive and nuisance value.
However, the larger threat is when this profiling done by the use of your meta-data is used to influence your decisions, choices, manipulate your thoughts, used for political propaganda or even influence elections, by private and foreign entities which result in a violation of not only your basic democratic rights guaranteed by the Constitution but also is a threat to democracy and sovereignty. This collection of meta-data is resulting in data monopolies i.e. Companies or foreign entities having large volumes of personal data of citizens of a country giving them a deep level of insight into a person’s private and personal lives without any supervision or oversight by governments. It is like being under 24×7 surveillance by a foreign entity.
WhatsApp has reiterated its claim that messages between two people including groups are end-to-end encrypted and that WhatsApp has no access to the content of the messages. So personal messages between friends, family, doctors will not be accessed or shared by WhatsApp. ( WhatsApp uses the same end-to-end encryption technology as used by Signal).
The choice is now yours: would you like to be a puppet in the hands of a foreign data monopoly such as Facebook who will have the ability to manipulate and influence you without you even not noticing it or would you exert your right to privacy by opting out of WhatsApp/ Facebook and also insist that the Indian Government regulates data collection by having a robust data protection law.