New WhatsApp policy worries even companies

2021-01-18 01:04:25

BENGALURU: It’s not just consumers who are worried about WhatsApp’s policy changes. Businesses that use WhatsApp’s application programming interface, or API, to reach customers and deliver sensitive documents are also concerned about the changes, which would see deeper integration of the messaging platform with Facebook.
These businesses want to take a closer look at the new policy as they regularly use WhatsApp to transmit private data like health test results and financial statements, or even personal information like travel and hotel bookings. At least two large digital platforms that use WhatsApp Business in India told TOI they plan to take the matter up with the company. They will then evaluate if they want to continue using the channel for communicating with their users.
E-pharmacy platform 1MG, for instance, sends its lab test results to consumers’ WhatsApp accounts if the user is fine with that. There are several other large platforms that send booking and other relevant details on WhatsApp, if a customer opts for it. These include movie ticketing firm BookMyShow, travel-booking companies MakeMyTrip & Ixigo, and home services platform Urban Company.

This has been seen as offering convenience, since WhatsApp is the preferred messaging platform for many users. With the proposed changes — now postponed to mid-May — businesses are anxious about the way this information will be treated and how it will impact their customers.
“We are glad that WhatsApp has postponed the proposed datasharing plans. We have been concerned and are evaluating its impact on the privacy of our users, given that any health-related conversation should not be used by the communication platform. As WhatsApp moves from being a communication platform to a datagathering and analysis platform, we would certainly like to engage in a deeper conversation to ensure user privacy is maintained,” 1MG co-founder and CEO Prashant Tandon told TOI.
A senior executive at a ticketing platform said, “WhatsApp is used as a convenient medium to send tickets. These messages are easy to find, to track updates on certain orders. So far, many users have used it, but now there are concerns how this will play out. People might not be comfortable using it for certain cases.”
WhatsApp has said that direct messages and group chats will remain encrypted, and that its new changes are related to chats with a business on WhatsApp. While announcing the move to delay by three months the implementation of the privacy changes, WhatsApp added in its post, “If you choose to interact with Shops, we will let you know in WhatsApp how your data is being shared with Facebook.”
WhatsApp has not communicated with Tandon’s company about the proposed changes.

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