WhatsApp to Remove Key Features Until You Opt Into New Privacy Policy

WhatsApp new Privacy Policy
Photo by Alok Sharma from Pexels

WhatsApp started 2021 with a controversial new privacy policy that, if accepted, would instantly grant the app the right to share any information it has about you with Facebook. Originally, users were given until May 15 to accept the new policy, after which it would apply to all users by default. However, new reports suggest that the Facebook-owned company may remove the deadline altogether. Instead, users who have not accepted the new privacy policy will be blocked from access to key WhatsApp functions until they do.

There was immediate backlash from users, with many turning to the Signal messaging app, which claims to be a more secure and less intrusive alternative to WhatsApp. The response instantly rocketed Signal to the top of the Google Play Store charts.

Back in 2016, WhatsApp rolled out a similar privacy policy change after being acquired by Facebook. In that case, users were offered the opportunity to opt out of the revised policy. This time around, there is no option to opt out — users must accept the new terms or lose key WhatsApp functionality.

Accepting the new data sharing terms grants all Facebook subsidiaries (including companies like Oculus and Instagram) the permission to access and use your WhatsApp chat metadata, WhatsApp pay transaction details, account details, your location, and details about your device and network.

In a blog post, WhatsApp stresses that all end-to-end encryption will continue to be applied to all communications. The post also explains that the new privacy policy does not grant Facebook access to the content of your messages, your call logs, shared locations, or your contacts.

WhatsApp confirmed in a statement to Android Central that it would not be immediately terminating the accounts of users who don’t accept the new policy. However, they will no longer be able to access their chat list. The statement explained that if the user had not accepted the policy after several weeks of limited functionality, the app will disable notifications and call functionality for the account.