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‘What’s up with WhatsApp?’

According to the planned Privacy Policy update announced by WhatsApp, user information will be shared with Facebook, Instagram and other subsidiaries

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WhatsApp greeted 2021 by becoming a trending app among its users because of its proposed new privacy policy.

WhatsApp Inc. gave users at least three months to properly review and accept the policy following user backlash and confusion. WhatsApp had to explain what data it collects and how it shares that information with its parent company, Facebook Inc.

WhatsApp announced that its privacy policy update would take effect on 15 May 2021, instead of 8 February 2021, the previously set date.

According to the planned Privacy Policy update announced by WhatsApp, user information will be shared with Facebook, Instagram and other subsidiaries to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support and market its services and related products.

Users must consent to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy; otherwise, they cannot continue to use their accounts on the messaging app.

This user information includes: Account registration information (such as users’ phone number); transaction data; service-related information; information on how users interact with others (including businesses) when using their services; users’ mobile device information; users’ IP address, and many more.

The National Privacy Commission’s Data Security and Tech Standards team is dissecting WhatsApp and has counted 56 permissions being asked by the app from its users.

This recent WhatsApp pop-up announcement has caused widespread concern because of the data privacy issues, and since not consenting to these new terms means being cut off from the entire service.

Users would need to agree to share their information with Facebook and its sister company Instagram if they wish to continue using the messaging app.

Users must consent to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy; otherwise, they cannot continue to use their accounts on the messaging app.

According to the Global Web Index’s 2019 Social Media User Trend Report — a survey of consumer statistics for the biggest social media platforms — the Philippines ranks among the highest in terms of social media market penetration with 90 percent of total Internet users aged 16 to 64 using social media and messaging apps, like WhatsApp.

The data to be shared includes a substantial amount of personal data.

Users must be made aware of the proposed changes and be allowed to exercise meaningful choice.

While we remind the app’s users to assume these new terms before consenting carefully, WhatsApp must consider that the country’s Data Privacy Act (DPA) of 2012 provides a clear definition of consent as a lawful criterion in processing personal data.

The DPA defines the data subject’s consent to be freely given, specific, informed indication of will, to be valid.

There are other aspects of this recent announcement from WhatsApp that the NPC is considering, besides securing valid consent. The extension gives time for WhatsApp users to study their new terms of service. It is suggested that WhatsApp likewise uses the time to check their compliance with the country’s data privacy law.

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