WhatsApp updates its terms and conditions by expanding the processing of personal data

The new terms and conditions of use of the famous instant messaging application "WhatsApp" will allow sharing the personal information of its users with Facebook and its related companies.  

This processing of personal data includes, among other data: 

  • Phone number
  • Contacts agenda
  • Profile names
  • Profile photos
  • When was the last time you were online
  • Diagnostic and usage data
  • Purchases made from the app
  • Financial data 
  • Location
  • Contact us
  • User generated content (WhatsApp stories)
  • Multiple unique identifiers
  • Usage and diagnostic data

Acceptance of this new treatment of personal data of WhatsApp users is mandatory for all users who do not reside in European Union countries, and will take effect on February 8, 2021. If you do not agree, you must delete and stop using the app.

In this regard, Arthur Messaud, lawyer at La Quadrature du net, a French association that defends Internet users, pointed out that "If the only way to reject (the modification) is to stop using WhatsApp, then the consent is forced since the use of personal data is illegal".

However, it is important to note that, according to statements by a Facebook representative to AFP, although the new conditions will allow the sharing of additional information between WhatsApp and Facebook, as well as with other applications such as Instagram and Messenger, this does not mean that the content of the messages will be revealed and shared, which will remain encrypted.

Reactions? 

The reactions of the public to this new treatment of your personal data has not been long in coming. For example, celebrities like Elon Musk (Tesla) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) have encouraged the download of alternative instant messaging services to WhatsApp, such as Signal. 

The latter has led to soaring in recent days the downloads of the Signal application. According to data analytics company Sensor Tower, it was reported that more than 100.000 users downloaded and installed Signal. For its part, Telegram would have registered almost 2,2 million downloads.

An important lesson in all this is that the new WhatsApp conditions would not be applicable in the European Union, which is the consequence of a robust regulation regarding the protection of personal data; As noted by Dutch MEP Paul Tang on Twitter: 

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Adolfo Morán
Adolfo is Founder and Executive Director of Lawgic Tec, a non-profit association dedicated to research on law and new technologies. Lawyer from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP); specialized in Financial Law, FinTech, Financial Consumer Protection, Smart Contracts, Blockchain and Crowdfunding. Researcher accredited by the PUCP. Co-organizer of the Ethereum community from Lima, Peru. Email: contacto@lawgictec.org

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