WhatsApp users condemn Facebook’s new controversial privacy policy, writes Emilia Paulus.

Social media platforms were abuzz after Facebook recently updated its Privacy Policy on WhatsApp messenger which they fully own. In a no opt out pop-up message to all users, Facebook informed clients about revamped terms and conditions for their messaging and voice over app platform.

As part of the updated terms of service, WhatsApp’s parent company is asking users to grant the company, as well as third party apps, permission to access their private information. Users were also given an ultimatum that failure to accept the new terms by February 8, would result in them losing subscription to the app altogether.

Many users where infuriated by the world’s leading social media platform’s decision to compromise user privacy without warning or consideration.

While I share the same sentiments, I am not completely surprised by Facebook’s of lack of consideration for privacy rights as many applications including much-used Apps like Google, Youtube and others have done the same thing for years without being exposed.

User information has been harvested, distributed and used to profit large companies in ways we cannot even begin to fathom and we have all kept quiet about it. This is also happening locally where some companies collect private information and use it without owners’ authorisation or hide this in the fine print of long contractual agreements which most consumers opt not to read and understand.)
As it stands, the new Facebook regulations largely affect Africans and other countries outside the European Union (EU) due to the absence of legal frameworks to prevent Facebook from misusing user data.
The truth is, if we really cared about privacy issues, we would be intensifying and channelling these debates to lobby policy makers to finalise the Data Protection Law as a matter of urgency. Such a law will not only protect citizens against abuse of their personal data but will also place Namibia in a better position to block the transfer of personal data outside of the country.

Emilia Paulus is a project officer at the Namibia media trust and vice Chairperson of the Namibia Internet Governance Forum (NamIGF)