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WhatsApp information sharing – A Threat to Users’ Privacy

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WhatsApp Logo. Image source: Whatsapp.com

– by Amit Srivastava

Sept 09, 2016: In absence of proper privacy laws for social media and e-commerce companies and complicated prosecution process, big MNCs are taking full leverage of situation to gather, share and market the Indian users’ personal details. Google and Facebook are leading companies involved in manipulation of users’ information.

Recently, it was announced that popular messenger WhatsApp will share information with the Facebook. This has caused an uproar in many countries as it is a direct breach of privacy. On this potential violation, US Federal Trade Commission is reviewing a joint complaint from two consumer privacy groups. European Union regulators have also affirmed that indicated European users need to remain in charge of their personal data.

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In India, such privacy breach generally goes unchallenged. However, in a rare instance, the matter has been contested in Delhi high court by two users Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi. On their petition against WhatsApp’s recent decision to share user data with parent company Facebook, Delhi High Court has sought the government’s response regarding the modification. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra has issued a notice to the Centre and asked the concerned authorities to file their reply by September 14.

Hence it is suggested to every Indian user must opt out of personal information sharing. In India also, Facebook has shared user’s information of Whatsapp with Facebook, without any prior intimation. To avoid this imposed privacy breach, follow these steps:

(i) Go to Whatsapp Settings
(ii) Click on Accounts
(iii) Uncheck “share my account info”

Every WhatsApp users must do it now. Else your personal chat, photos, and videos could be shared with Facebook. Please Alert and inform others about this.
Existing WhatsApp users have time until September 25, 2016, to click through this update and agree or not agree to Facebook using their WhatsApp data to suggest friends and serve ads.

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After this particular date, the company might automatically share the users’ details with Facebook.  Hope, we will have appropriate privacy laws soon to tame top violators like Google and Facebook. Till then, be vigilant about your online privacy.

This abrupt policy change is made, as Facebook eyes to make more profit and this is so because Whatsapp is a more personalised form of staying connected to people. The information, content and the activities of every user are added in ‘Big Data’ of the company. They use this Big Data to earn advertisements, market surveys, consumers profiling and others profit making exchanges. With his change, the arena of Social Media has become more vulnerable and insecure. We need to be extra cautious while putting any personal details even on personal messaging platforms like WhatsApp!     

– Amit is a Freelancer based in India. Twitter: @amisri

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Facebook Commits $130 mn to Build Global Oversight Board for Ensuring Accountability

Facebook intends to continue funding the board's operations in the future, and these reports will be used to assess the need for additional, substantive and long-term funding

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Facebook said it has established the independent Oversight Board Trust to ensure the board can safeguard its ability to make independent decisions and recommendations. Pixabay

Facebook has made an initial commitment of $130 million to build a global oversight board that will ensure good governance and accountability across its services and platforms.

The initial funding will cover operational costs such as office space, staff and travel expenses and should allow the board to operate for at least its first two full terms, approximately six years, Brent Harris, Director of Governance and Global Affairs at Facebook, said in a statement.

The board will submit a yearly budget to the trust for approval and disbursement of funds.

Annual reports from the board and trust will help to document the health and effectiveness of the board, including its stewardship of these resources.

Facebook intends to continue funding the board’s operations in the future, and these reports will be used to assess the need for additional, substantive and long-term funding.

Last November, Mark Zuckerberg wrote about his vision for what content governance should look like for Facebook.

Facebook said it has established the independent Oversight Board Trust to ensure the board can safeguard its ability to make independent decisions and recommendations.

Facebook
Facebook has made an initial commitment of $130 million to build a global oversight board that will ensure good governance and accountability across its services and platforms. Pixabay

“The board will have its own staff, independent from Facebook. To start, we expect this staff to include a director, case managers and dedicated staff members (or contracted services) who can support things such as the board’s communications, legal, human resources and research needs,” said Harris.

ALSO READ: Google Maps Captures Over 10 mn Miles of Street View Imagery

In addition, said Facebook, it will continue to work with outside experts to source and review candidates for board membership, including those who’ve been recommended through the public portal, which we opened in September.

“We are eager to see the Oversight Board take shape and start hearing cases next year,” said Facebook. (IANS)