WhatsApp’s changed privacy policy has sent netizens into a frenzy

WhatsApp’s changed privacy policy has sent netizens into a frenzy

Mona

‘Use Signal’... Tweets Elon Musk and the world listens to its richest! Couple it with WhatsApp announcing changes in private policy and netizens are looking for safer as well as secure chatting alternatives. Actor Nitish Gupta, currently seen in Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya, says, “Well, it is a reality that today probably Google knows way more about you than any of your family members.”

However, Nitish has not yet accepted WhatsApp’s change of private policy. “Like anyone else, I too have used WhatsApp so far as I knew that the messages were encrypted. Now with the change in policy, I would rather have clarity before I continue using it. Meanwhile, I am trying my hands at Telegram, which offers better protection and privacy,” he adds.

Telegram platform, which stands today at 500 million active users, garnered 25 million in last three days alone while Signal has amassed 525 million users to date! Not that WhatsApp is taking the whole paradigm shift lying down. On Wednesday they issued full front page advertisements and articles committing assured privacy. While this chat service maintains that its only business messages that can be read for marketing purposes, the policy remains the same regarding chats with family and friends.

Actor Prreit Kamal, who is due to shoot Fer Mamla Gadbad Hai shortly, has always been wary of privacy policies of different social media platforms. “I am old-school still; I would rather call than chat incessantly over varied platforms.” While her WhatsApp use has been limited to her cousins in Canada largely, she has been more of an iMessage person. “By subscribing to social media, we have been subject to marketing depending on what we post or like. The Sushant Singh case and WhatsApp chats that were made public further made one take notice. During the lockdown, I tried trimming my virtual world. I stick to IMessages for personal exchange and Instagram for connecting with fans.”

Being cautious

There are others who have turned more cautious. Sameer Sandhu, music producer, The Collective Projekt, says, “I had watched the documentary ‘The Great Hack’ and ‘The Social Dilemma’, which enlightened me about the dark side of social media. Both the times, I didn’t touch my phone for two or more days but eventually as an artiste our lives depend so much on social media. The question is what can we do about it? I have just become more conscious about what I share on social media apps.” Sandhu downloaded Signal two days ago and beside privacy liked the fact that one can send bigger files on it. “I sent 101mb music file on Signal yesterday,” he adds.

“One cannot strengthen one piece of the chain and leave others unguarded,” says tech expert Joseph Jude, CTO, Net Solutions. He emphasises that it’s time to rethink privacy all over. Addressing Whatsapp, Signal and Telegram comparisons, from tool perspective he puts Signal to be best bet as its code is open. From user experience perspective, Telegram wins over Signal but its code is not open to audit.

Jude lists points to keep in mind while rethinking privacy:

• Security is closely related to privacy, but they are not the same. Privacy is about who has your personal information; security is about how well it is protected.

• Whatsapp and Facebook, as services, are secure; but do they respect our privacy? Do they manipulate our data or share our data with other parties that we don't know?

• We can't openly publish our photos; tag our names, places etc on Facebook, Google photos, Instagram and then worry only about our chats being shared with others! We invite such behaviour from companies.

• In this respect, Signal is secure and respects our privacy. Since we can audit its code, and no one has found any privacy concerns in the code, we can say it maintains privacy of the chats. However, if we create groups in Signal and openly share our personal information, then, of course, we compromise our privacy there.

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