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ISLAMABAD: The government has clarified the changes in the privacy policy of the WhatsApp in view of the concerns by the general public, saying that subject changes in privacy are applicable on WhatsApp business account only, while regular non-business/individual profiles/accounts are not affected.

According to the Ministry of Information Technology and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), users who have not accepted the new policies by February 8, 2021, will not lose their accounts, but will need to agree to the updates in order to use their account.

The ministry has stated that reference to on-going news threads by national media and social media platforms regarding change in privacy terms and conditions of WhatsApp, the Ministry of IT and Telecom is monitoring the current developments and clarifications provided by Facebook Inc in this regard.

It is brought to notice that subject changes in privacy are applicable on WhatsApp business account only, while regular non-business/individual profiles/accounts are not affected.

The MOIT&T emphasised that all such digital social media platforms including WhatsApp administration to adhere by privacy rights of citizens of Pakistan.

In this regard, all such digital platforms need to strengthen their engagements with the Government of Pakistan, so that concerns of the general public and businesses can be well addressed by all means.

According to officials statements keeping in view the concerns by the general public regarding recently announced changes in privacy policy of the WhatsApp, following clarifications have been provided by WhatsApp and Facebook:

The updated Privacy Policy will go into effect on February 8, 2021. The rationale for the changes in the WhatsApp privacy policy is to make it easier for people to both make a purchase and get help from a business directly on WhatsApp, this update does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family. WhatsApp is still end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp shares certain categories of data - including account registration information (e.g. phone number), how users interact with others (including businesses), and the user’s IP address - with Facebook for purposes such as promoting safety and integrity, fighting spam, improving infrastructure and delivery systems, and providing integrations which enable users to connect their WhatsApp experiences with other Facebook Company Products and personalizing content (including ads and friend suggestions) across the Facebook Company Products. That has been the case since 2016 and has not changed with this update.

Further WhatsApp is making it easier for people to both make a purchase and get help from a business (using WhatsApp Business API) directly on WhatsApp. This change helps reduce onboarding time for businesses from a matter of weeks or months to a matter of minutes.

Users will be notified within a chat with a business that has chosen to use Facebook or a third-party to manage their WhatsApp messages, so they can choose whether to interact with this business.

Once a user starts using WhatsApp to send messages to businesses using WhatsApp for Business App, the shopping data can be shared with merchants and Facebook to improve their services. It doesn’t mean you will see ads on WhatsApp.

This has zero impact on private messages and calls with your friends and family - no one can read them except you and the person you are communicating with - not even WhatsApp or Facebook.

For the limited categories of data WhatsApp does collect, it takes measures to restrict access to that information. While you may grant WhatsApp access to your contacts to help deliver the messages you send, WhatsApp does not share contact lists with anyone, including Facebook.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021