In a good two weeks, the application will modify its conditions of use regarding the protection of personal data. One factor leads experts to be (still) very suspicious of this change: Facebook’s takeover of WhatsApp in 2017 …
Messaging, which claims 2 billion users, says it is a misunderstanding and that the update aims to help merchants better communicate with their customers through WhatsApp. Despite these explanations and the postponement of the implementation of the new regulation, now scheduled for May 15, many people have defected from messaging to join services such as Signal or Telegram.
What about this next ‘mod’? Jean-Michel Dricot, from the Ecole polytechnique de Bruxelles, refreshes our memories. “If you accept this update, the application will retrieve all the phone numbers saved on your device, whether those contacts are on WhatsApp or not. They will also be able to analyze the interactions between these numbers. Therefore, it is also about analyzing the interactions to establish “categories”, “groups” of people to target during a marketing campaign or to resume political messages to a specific audience before a vote. This data is a gold mine. “
But the true original sin as reported in January Ryan Calo, a researcher at the Tech Policy Lab at the University of Washington, “It was buying WhatsApp and integrating it into the Facebook business model, which monetizes all the data collected. The changes are not as dystopian as many people imagine. But they are a step towards a model that many people fear “, he continues. An opinion fully shared by Dricot: “All changes related to the data protection of the application are related to this acquisition. Facebook bases its empire on reselling metadata. The reputation of Mark Zuckerberg’s company in terms of data protection is very bad; she has failed multiple times. Just remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “
Hence the legitimate fear of many users and their desire to jump ship, if they haven’t already. And the Belgian researcher recalled that it has been possible to demonstrate that companies, including Facebook, are de facto infringing the GDPR (European General Data Protection Regulation) by not offering a satisfactory level of security in practice.
In any case, for now, apart from seeing its users loosen up, WhatsApp does not risk much … “This advertised practice does not respect the GDPR. However, for this update to be considered illegal, a European citizen must bring the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the data protection authority must investigate, this breach must be proven … spend a lot of time. “
And before that, the ‘damage will be done’ so to speak … Once again, as technology advances at breakneck speed and its use, users must recover. In your own judgment and your vision of a certain future. . Good luck !