However, users not agreeing to the controversial terms after “several weeks” will not be able to access their chat list, and eventually, will not be able to answer incoming phone or video calls over the app.
India remains a critical market for Internet companies like Facebook with its large population base and burgeoning Internet adoption. The country is the world’s second-largest telecom market and the biggest consumer of data. So what should users and WhatsApp do solve this crisis? Let’s first understand the basics of the problem before finding a solution.
WhatsApp continues to claim that its messaging app is end-to-end encrypted and that it doesn’t have access to your private chats or location. The company also assures that it will not share private messages or other data with Facebook. But, the new update will enable WhatsApp to use some of the “business conversations” hosted with the social network for advertising. Only “when you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook,” company said. WhatsApp also says it will “clearly label conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook. Messaging with businesses is different than messaging with your family or friends.”
Why the delay in the deadline?
WhatsApp faced massive criticism from users, privacy activists and even the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology which flagged the new policy as invasive and said that it enabled WhatsApp and other Facebook group companies to make precise inferences about users. Many began to download other instant messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram and deleting their accounts on WhatsApp.
What should Indian users do now?
The issue comes with your metadata, i.e., the details around your messages, who, when, where, what, your contacts and all the information about your device. WhatsApp collects too much data, but lesser when compared to apps like Facebook, Messenger, Google, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. So, if you are not worried about your data being collected from your phone from these apps, then you shouldn’t worry too much about WhatsApp. However, it is best to change a few setting to stay in the safe zone. Here’s what you can do:
1. Stop malicious content from infecting your phone via WhatsApp
Users must avoid opening suspicious links and unknown attachments sent on WhatsApp that could potentially hack your phone.
2. Disable autosave option
This will help in protecting your data, and you can download selected images to your phone’s photo gallery according to your need. Image files can be crafted with embedded threats. When you disable autosaving of images, you prevent these unknown files from getting access into your phone and save your privacy and message content from any major risk.
3. Add a PIN number to your app
An attacker can’t hijack your account with the two-step verification being registered in your account, as the PIN will secure your account just like your phone password.
4. Disable back-ups
WhatsApp backups are not protected by that end-to-end encryption. There are no serious claims that your content is analyzed, but it can be accessed by Apple or Google, invalidating the purpose of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption.
5. Use WhatsApp for professional messaging only
If you have workgroups or general groups which are not too much of a private matter for you, you can accept the new policy and use WhatsApp for your work-related messaging, while shifting to safer platforms like Telegram and Signal for private/personal chatting.
In conclusion, user can keep using WhatsApp, well until it becomes even more complicated and more changes are introduced in the future. If users find it inconvenient, they can simply forget about it and delete their account, switching to other apps. WhatsApp’s commercial evolution looks like it is here to stay.