Hi Guys,

There has been lots of back and forth about the new Terms and Conditions WhatsApp have unleashed upon us all. I have posted about this before in January this year, when Whatsapp agreed to delay their controversial new terms. But in the last few weeks you may have noticed the annoying T&C’s screens popping up every time you use whatsapp.

What’s Up with WhatsApp:

There was a lot of confusion with these new terms and some older terms from 2016 which caused much of the outrage. In a nutshell, agreeing to these new terms permits WhatsApp to share even more data with its parent company Facebook. This information is mostly pertaining to information about business interactions on WhatsApp and does not interfere with your chat content. They have kept their end-to-end encryption policy firmly in place. 

Punishment for Privacy

Their recent policy enforcement measures were the spark of much debate and public criticism.  WhatsApp said that it would restrict the functionality of its app for users who didn’t accept the new policy, limiting access to chat logs and even blocking users from receiving and making calls via the app. Essentially, punishing users who value their online privacy. They said:

“At that time, you’ll encounter limited functionality on WhatsApp until you accept the updates. This will not happen to all users at the same time.

You won’t be able to access your chat list, but you can still answer incoming phone and video calls. If you have notifications enabled, you can tap on them to read or respond to a message or call back a missed phone or video call.

After a few weeks of limited functionality, you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and WhatsApp will stop sending messages and calls to your phone.”

As Malwarebytes nicely put it, “A private messaging app that cannot receive messages is useless”

The Good News

Well you can keep clicking that little ‘x’ in the top right corner or choose the ‘maybe later’ option and close out of those pesky pop up policy agreement screens. You do not have to accept them and give away more of your privacy, and you can still enjoy WhatsApp as you know it, without restriction.

After a mass exodus of users, loss of its founders and a more tarnished reputation, WhatsApp have changed their mind on their harsh policy enforcement measures.  

“Given recent discussions with various authorities and privacy experts, we want to make clear that we currently have no plans to limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works for those who have not yet accepted the update. Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, like communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook.”

While these new conditions may not be enforced, they clearly are using other tactics to encourage us to accept, accept, accept by means of irritating us into it.  It doesn’t sound like these pop up policy screens are going to completely disappear any time soon, you may have to persevere with them here and there for a little longer. If there is anything to learn from this back and forth policy enforcement ping pong, is to stay awake.

Read your pop ups people, and stay on your toes, new permissions or data policies try to sneak in under the radar as much as possible. So many of us blindly click on buttons just to get to the next screen,  sometimes accidentally agreeing to new terms or granting all kinds of unnecessary permissions, and data sharing policies. 

It’s fine to spend your money as you so choose, for an app, for more functionality or for those extra game lives (we’ve all been there), but not when your privacy is the currency. No one should ever be forced to share their private data or else.

All the best,

Max Roberts
Incognito Privacy Care Team.

P.S. Also, while we are on the subject, have you checked the permissions of your apps lately. You can check them using the App Audit in Incognito. It scans all the apps on your device and checks what permissions they have and you can turn off any permissions apps don’t need. Does a torch app need to track your location.