WhatsApp is forcing users to share data with Facebook, unless you're living in the EU

nanoguy

Posts: 740   +12
Staff member
What just happened? Apple's latest iOS privacy update is pushing companies like Facebook into fight of flight mode. This is why WhatsApp has decided to impose a new policy on its users if they want to continue using the service, with the exception of people who live in the EU.

This week, Facebook-owned WhatsApp started giving users a pop-up alert that looks a lot like an ultimatum for people who want to continue using the app. Essentially, it says that people need to agree to new terms of service by February 8 or risk losing access to your WhatsApp next month.

The revamped set of requirements is also a reversal on a one-time decision in 2016 that allowed users to opt out of having their account data turned over to Facebook. This includes phone numbers, friends' phone numbers, profile names and pictures, status messages and activity status, as well as detailed diagnostic data from app logs. However, the new policy means Facebook reserves the right to share the data collected within its family of online platforms.

Furthermore, there will be cases where Facebook decides to share that data with third parties, which has privacy groups riled up again. The move is in response to Apple's new privacy labels on iOS 14, which highlight all the different ways certain free apps collect information about their users. This was particularly revealing for the Facebook family of apps, which happens to have the most extensive list of all.

It shouldn't come as a big surprise that Facebook is so adamant in collecting all that metadata, as the company makes most of its revenue from advertising. Last month, it plunged into a public image feud with Apple using several newspaper ads, but their effect has yet to produce any results. As for the Cupertino company, they say they're simply encouraging app makers to be more forthcoming with how they monetize their apps.

When WhatsApp's in-app alert hit the first users, some speculated that it would spark regulatory scrutiny in the EU, which is known for having stricter privacy rules. However, WhatsApp's Irish subsidiary said in a statement today that while European users are shown the same prompt to agree to the revamped privacy policy, in their case it doesn't include sharing that data with Facebook's other online platforms or third parties.

A WhatsApp spokeswoman explained "there are no changes to WhatsApp’s data sharing practices in the European region arising from the updated terms of service and privacy policy. For the avoidance of any doubt, it is still the case that WhatsApp does not share European region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or advertisements." This was further confirmed by the company's director of policy for the EMEA region, Niamh Sweeney.

The fact still remains that users outside the EU have to agree to a higher degree of data sharing, stressing the need for tougher privacy regulation in the United States, as well as other regions with permissive environments. In the meantime, smaller iOS developers are getting creative with how they subvert Apple's privacy update for iOS users.

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meric

Posts: 312   +306
You're wrong, in 2016 WhatsApp asked you if you wanted to opt out of data sharing, it was your choice, this removes that option, you're now sharing your data whether like it or not.
I'm sorry but you are wrong. You can read their 2016 policy again, it's on their page. The "choice" is not what you think it is. Facebook and Google rely on data collecting and sharing to earn ad revenues. Whatsapp is a good source for collecting data. This is how they became giants. How do you think they have the power to manipulate elections? The only reason they give notification now is that Apple pushed them to do so. Apple threatened to remove all facebook apps from app store if they didn't properly acknowledge the user.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 292   +393
Glad I was never on whatsapp... but I use messenger and that's not any better really with the exception that I have never allowed it access to my phone contacts.
I don't think FB cares what you think you don't want to share with them. 😊
Facebook Messenger is one of the worst legal malwares you can get on mobile. It logs everything you do. Because, that 5,000 page EULA says you agreed to that.
 

NumberSix

Posts: 20   +30
I'm sorry but you are wrong. You can read their 2016 policy again, it's on their page. The "choice" is not what you think it is. Facebook and Google rely on data collecting and sharing to earn ad revenues. Whatsapp is a good source for collecting data. This is how they became giants. How do you think they have the power to manipulate elections? The only reason they give notification now is that Apple pushed them to do so. Apple threatened to remove all facebook apps from app store if they didn't properly acknowledge the user.

You’re missing the point, this isn’t entirely about mining data, when you use a Google account or sign up to Facebook you are fully aware your data is going to be used. Half a billion people were using WhatsApp when Facebook bought it and Facebook promised they would never collect personal data from WhatsApp, Facebook then said they would collect personal data from WhatsApp but you could opt out and the option to do this was presented to you in the app at the time of the new terms, Facebook then said we are having your data, your choice is agree or leave, they have removed the option presented to you in 2016. Whatever your take on this is this is the perfect opportunity to get people to try something safer and much, much less intrusive and to kick Facebook in the nads.
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 416   +792
Signal is the solution.

But be careful, since the backup option is very dangerous.

On Android, the backup is a folder inside your phone. If you lose the phone, you lose all of your chats.

Which means that you have to manually backup that folder out of the phone.

Again, this is a warning for the people that care for their chat history, so it doesnt apply to the ones that dont care about this.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 787   +1,116
Signal is the solution.

But be careful, since the backup option is very dangerous.

On Android, the backup is a folder inside your phone. If you lose the phone, you lose all of your chats.

Which means that you have to manually backup that folder out of the phone.

Again, this is a warning for the people that care for their chat history, so it doesnt apply to the ones that dont care about this.
You can use a utility like Syncthing to automatically back up a folder on Android to a PC or other device, directly without a cloud server intermediary.
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 416   +792
You can use a utility like Syncthing to automatically back up a folder on Android to a PC or other device, directly without a cloud server intermediary.

I played with Syncthing, lord what a mission!

But the problem is, out of the box, Signal needs a way to backup to the cloud, meanwhile it maintains the data encrypted.

Many of us can do Syncthing, but a whole lot more cant and those are the ones that will make or break the success of the product.
 

Gastec

Posts: 104   +47
Just use Signal and call it a day. It’s used widely in intelligence circles for personal communications when abroad, and it works very well.
The same intelligence circles that take good care of our data and make it shareware with the likes of Cambridge Analytica and related firms?
 

Hexic

Posts: 935   +1,292
TechSpot Elite
The same intelligence circles that take good care of our data and make it shareware with the likes of Cambridge Analytica and related firms?

You misunderstood my comment, and Signal. There’s no data for Signal to share with a court ordered warrant other than the date the account was created, and a time stamped value of the last use of the service. No encryption keys or data is held by Signal by design.

I also stated personal communications. When I’m in Bagram, Greece, or anywhere in the field texting back home, that’s what delegates, contractors, and other personnel have used for this reason to keep in touch to the states without fear of foreign interception of messages. This isn’t government software, it’s open source encrypted messaging service with each key residing with only the sending and receiving parties.
 

Gastec

Posts: 104   +47
You misunderstood my comment, and Signal. There’s no data for Signal to share with a court ordered warrant other than the date the account was created, and a time stamped value of the last use of the service. No encryption keys or data is held by Signal by design.

I also stated personal communications. When I’m in Bagram, Greece, or anywhere in the field texting back home, that’s what delegates, contractors, and other personnel have used for this reason to keep in touch to the states without fear of foreign interception of messages. This isn’t government software, it’s open source encrypted messaging service with each key residing with only the sending and receiving parties.
No, no I totally get it. I'm glad that the intelligence circles have found ways to make it work so well for them. I wish them good fortunes!
 

Woxys

Posts: 6   +0
What about situations where by mistake you pressed "Agree", are there any solutions to undo it?