PTA to announce strategy for WhatsApp’s new privacy policy

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has started reviewing the new privacy policy issued by messenger application WhatsApp and will announce a strategy regarding the matter in the few upcoming days.

According to a PTA source, the authority was carrying out a detailed review of the new policy and its related aspects after which it would prepare a strategy, disclose its take on the policy and inform people accordingly. He maintained WhatsApp had suddenly made changes in the policy so PTA couldn’t respond to it immediately.

Facebook-owned application WhatsApp has introduced changes to its privacy policy for the use of the application and informed users via a notification to read the changes. It is mandatory for users to accept the new policy by February 8, otherwise their account would be blocked and deleted.

As per the new policy, WhatsApp will use data of users, including user’s name, mobile number, photos, statuses, phone model, operating system, device information, IP address, mobile network, location and other related information and share it with other social media platforms connected to WhatsApp as well as third-party users, including Facebook.

The application may retain private information on transactions and payments.

The changes have irked a large number of WhatsApp users and provoked a strong reaction on social media.

On Tuesday, WhatsApp issued a clarification regarding its updated policy, saying the update would not affect the “privacy of messages with friends or family”.

Addressing the issue, WhatsApp head Will Cathcart, in a message on Twitter, said, “Today we’re answering some common questions we’ve received on WhatsApp.”

He shared a link to WhatsApp page on the website answering those questions as well.

Cathcart further said: “Our policy update describes business communication and adds transparency. It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family.”

Earlier, WhatsApp head defended the criticism on new policy and clarified that messages and calls under the application were still end-to-end encrypted, the primary feature of the application which ensured that user’s private communication was not accessible to anyone.

Cathcart noted the feature was not being changed, saying Facebook couldn’t read chat of users.

“It’s important to clear this update describes business communication and does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook. It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world,” said the WhatsApp head in a series of Tweets defending the criticism on the application.

He further said WhatsApp provides communications services to nearly two billion people worldwide and about 175 million people message a business account each day on the application.

Talking to The Express Tribune, an expert from Islamabad Haseeb Ahmed maintained changes in WhatsApp policy made due to security concerns but it might affect the privacy of users and compromise on their private information which could be shared on multiple platforms. He insisted that policy makers would reconsider the changes.

Ahmed added users had no choice but to accept the new policy changes or else they would not be able to use the messenger application.

(with input from news desk)

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune – Technology rss feed, without modifications to the text)