WhatsApp went into full damage control mode, reassuring users that personal messages would continue to be private and encrypted and that Facebook would not be scanning them. The blog post included the following statement: “We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update. There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts. WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook. With these updates, none of that is changing. Instead, the update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”
Facebook will, however, make use of the messages (including any attachment files such as receipt scans or pictures) sent to the businesses on WhatsApp that use its API (estimated to be somewhere north of a thousand worldwide). Users would be notified before messaging one of these businesses. While that is not a major privacy concern on its own, WhatsApp buried the details behind several click-throughs to other pages in its initial announcement.
First legal challenge arises in India
The legal challenge was filed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents about 40,000 trade associations located throughout the country. The agency regularly advocates at the highest levels of the Indian government, and made news in 2020 by calling for a boycott of Chinese products in response to the ongoing border tensions between the two countries.