WhatsApp and Data Privacy

WhatsApp and Data Privacy

WhatsApp and Data Privacy

WhatsApp is definitely one of the most important communication channels in today’s world. The widely popular instant messaging platform owned by Facebook has more than 120 million subscribers in just 5 of the middle east countries. The adoption rate in Saudi Arabia, the most populous GCC country, is more than 75%, according to the data.

WhatsApp has recently announced updates to its privacy policies. These new changes are mostly regarding the users’ private data, including their phone number, which would be now shared with Facebook. Under the terms of the new privacy policy, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, will be able to collect users’ data from the messaging app such as their phone number, email address, contacts, location, device ID, user ID, purchase history, product & business interaction, payment info, etc for better-targeted advertising. The changes, which are set to take effect on 8th February 2021, are compulsory and users will not be able to continue using WhatsApp unless they accept these new terms and privacy policy.

Decisions like collecting more personal data made by tech giants always emphasize the importance of user data and privacy regulation laws. In this digital age, data privacy has become an extremely critical element. Data privacy mostly revolves around topics like User Data Consent management, Third-Party Data Sharing, Purpose of Data Collection, etc.

Today, the public is more aware of how their personal data and online activities are collected and shared with third parties. One of the most important milestones in the history of privacy laws is GDPR. General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR is a regulation that requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states and non-compliance could cost these companies dearly.

Data Privacy in the UAE

The UAE has set in place many legislations to protect the data and the privacy of the persons and the companies, but the country doesn’t have a comprehensive data protection law or national data protection regulatory body at its federal level yet. However, specialized data protection laws exist in certain free zones like Dubai International Financial Centre, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and the Dubai Health Care City.

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With the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of UAE launching a 2020-2025 National Cybersecurity Strategy which has a very high emphasis on data privacy, the country may soon launch national-level data protection.

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