Notably, WhatsApp has always shared data with Facebook since the latter acquired it in 2014, but until recently users had the option to opt out of it. This changes with the new update, which would have wide repercussions on WhatsApp Payments as well.
Even now WhatsApp will continue to be end-to-end encrypted, it will still share metadata of conversations and users — transaction data, mobile device information, IP addresses, and other data on how they interact with businesses. The move is tied to WhatsApp’s bigger ecommerce play as well as its super app ambitions in India, which is heavily reliant on providing customer data analytics to small businesses.
But the update has subjected the company to a lot of criticism from users across the globe, leading to users migrating to other platforms like Signal and Telegram. Both the messagings app collectively witnessed 4 Mn downloads in India between January 6 to 10, four days after WhatsApp announced its latest policy. Simultaneously, WhatsApp’s download fell 35% to 1.3 Mn in the same time period.
Even the Indian government and judicial system have intervened to restrain WhatsApp from implementing the policy. The Supreme Court of India and Delhi high court is looking at the petitions filed in this regard. The Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, issued a notice to Facebook and WhatsApp in February. The CJI said that people have grave concerns about their privacy, even though Facebook may be a trillion-dollar company, the privacy of people is more important.