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Democrats Ask Facebook To Reverse WhatsApp Privacy Update

 |  May 11, 2021

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Tuesday, May 11, urged Facebook to reverse plans for a required update to its messaging platform subsidiary WhatsApp over concerns about data privacy, reported The Hill.

WhatsApp is issuing an update to its terms and services as it allows users to talk to businesses on the platform.

WhatsApp has stated that the update will not change its policies around keeping personal conversations encrypted, meaning Facebook and WhatsApp cannot read the messages.

But the Democrats wrote in a letter Tuesday that WhatsApp’s failure to commit to the same privacy policy for the messages with businesses is a “potential misuse of data,” and could lead to the use of that information for targeted advertising.

The key concern the lawmakers highlighted is the fact that “this policy may not provide an option to opt out.” 

After receiving a “persistent reminder” about the update, users will “encounter limited functionality on WhatsApp” until they accept the update, according to WhatsApp.

The Democrats underscored their request for the update to be reversed by noting that WhatsApp is a popular app used by immigrant communities in the US with ties abroad. 

“As Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, we are concerned that WhatsApp’s policy change may leave our immigrant communities vulnerable to further ad targeting. We believe consumers deserve the option to use WhatsApp knowing that their privacy will be protected the way the founders intended, and the way Facebook promised to uphold,” they wrote in the letter led by Rep. Lori Trahan (Democrat – Massachusetts).