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‘Use Signal App’ – A New Slogan As WhatsApp Pushes Privacy Update

Signal is an open source, peer reviewed and end-to-end encrypted messaging app developed by Signal Foundation. 

Published
Cyber
3 min read
Signal is an open source, peer reviewed and end-to-end encrypted messaging app developed by Signal Foundation. 
i

“Use Signal App” has emerged as an unwitting slogan on social media for those concerned with WhatsApp’s new coercive privacy policy update. According to the new update, WhatsApp users will not be able to send or receive messages after 8 February till they accept the updated terms and conditions.

From Elon Musk to hacker Elliot Alderson, several technology leaders, activists, ethical hackers and professionals have undertaken a spirited advocacy of Signal app as an alternative to WhatsApp.

WhatsApp on Tuesday, 5 January, updated its Terms of Services and its Privacy Policy and started sending in-app notifications to its users informing them about a change. The new terms and privacy policy will come into effect on 8 February 2021.

Reports have suggested a steady uptick in the adoption of Signal as well as Telegram following the endorsement by high-profile names.

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Signal, indicating this surge in registrations, tweeted on 7 January, “Verification codes are currently delayed across several providers because so many new people are trying to join Signal right now (we can barely register our excitement).”

What WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy Proposes

“WhatsApp is updating its terms and privacy policy,” the company said in the notification that is being sent to both Android and iOS users.

The update comes with a condition that if the user refuses to share data with Facebook, they will have to quit WhatsApp.

One of the many changes that the company provided information on is the data it collects from users, which includes account information, address book information, status information, transactions and payments data, customer support communications and messages in some circumstances.

According to the company, messages are only stored on your device and not on the company servers.

According to the new terms and conditions and privacy policy shared by WhatsApp, it will be able to share and receive a certain category of information with other Facebook companies, they include:

  • Account registration information (such as your phone number)
  • Transaction data, service-related information
  • Information on how users interact with others (including businesses) when using the platform.
  • Mobile device information
  • User IP address
  • It may also share and receive automatically collected data and messages, that have been mentioned in the scenarios listed above.

A Push for Signal

Signal is a cross-platform open source, peer reviewed and encrypted messaging service that is available on Android, iOS, and other operating systems. The messaging app offers end-to-end encryption for messages and media shared between users.

Several activists, journalists and technology professionals have openly advocated the use of Signal or a migration away from WhatsApp.

Fact-checking platform AltNews founder Pratik Sinha tweeted, “If you’re looking at migrating out of WhatsApp, @signalapp is a very good option.”

“Signal is developed under Signal Foundation which is a non-profit foundation. It is open source and peer reviewed. Same is not true with Telegram and other market offerings,” he added.

Others like ethical hacker Elliot Alderson and Internet Freedom Foundation’s Executive Director Apar Gupta tweeted “Use @signalppp”.

However, WhatsApp has 340 millions users in India, by far the largest personal messaging service in India.

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WhatsApp’s Clarification

WhatsApp issued a new public statement on 8 January regarding the updates it will be bringing in. The statement emphasises that while one-on-one communications will continue to remain end-to-end encrypted, it is the communication with business accounts on WhatsApp that are undergoing changes.

Here’s what the full statement says:

“As we announced in October, WhatsApp wants to make it easier for people to both make a purchase and get help from a business directly on WhatsApp. While most people use WhatsApp to chat with friends and family, increasingly people are reaching out to businesses as well.

To further increase transparency, we updated the privacy policy to describe that going forward businesses can choose to receive secure hosting services from our parent company Facebook to help manage their communications with their customers on WhatsApp. Though of course, it remains up to the user whether or not they want to message with a business on WhatsApp.

The update does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook and does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world. WhatsApp remains deeply committed to protecting people's privacy. We are communicating directly with users through WhatsApp about these changes so they have time to review the new policy over the course of the next month.”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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