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WhatsApp says it can't see your location, policy states otherwise

In the statement released on Tuesday, WhatsApp says it cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook. It's new policy states otherwise.

twitter-logoManas Tiwari | January 13, 2021 | Updated 10:51 IST

Highlights

  • WhatsApp says it can't see your shared location.
  • New policy states that it collects and uses precise location information.
  • he same information can also be used by WhatsApp for analytical purposes.  

The last few days have been tough for WhatsApp. Its updated policies have been criticised all around the world and many users have switched to alternates like Telegram and Signal. On Tuesday, WhatsApp did a damage control exercise when it released a clarification on the new policies, listing down the data it will not be collecting. However, the clarification creates further confusion than reassuring the users.

One part of the clarification which should have your attention and probably needs further clarity from platform's end is the location information. In the statement released on Tuesday, WhatsApp says it cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook. It says that the location also remains end-to-end encrypted just like your personal chats.

"We can't see your shared location and neither can Facebook: When you share your location with someone on WhatsApp, your location is protected by end-to-end encryption, which means no one can see your location except the people you share it with," the statement from WhatsApp reads.

On any other day, this would have helped regaining user confidence. But, the policy statement leaves users with more questions than answers. In the 'Automatically Collected Information' section of its new policy, the company specifically notes that it collects and uses precise location information from device with your permission.

"We collect and use precise location information from your device with your permission when you choose to use location-related features, like when you decide to share your location with your contacts or view locations nearby or locations others have shared with you," the policy said.

It further adds that even if users deny the permission, WhatsApp can use the area phone code and IP address to figure out your approximate location.

"Even if you do not use our location-related features, we use IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (e.g., city and country). We also use your location information for diagnostics and troubleshooting purposes," WhatsApp had said.

Both these parts are still present on the new WhatsApp policy page which means while the platform is promising that your location remains secret, the data linked to it can be accessed and used to find your exact location. The same information can also be used by WhatsApp for analytical purposes.

The careful use of words leaves further scope about how WhatsApp shares your location information with Facebook and other third-party service providers. It claims that even Facebook can't read your location but the policy again, states something else.

"We work with third-party service providers and other Facebook Companies to help us operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services. For example, we work with them to distribute our apps; provide our technical and physical infrastructure, delivery, and other systems; provide engineering support, cybersecurity support, and operational support; supply location, map, and places information; process payments; help us understand how people use our Services; market our Services; help you connect with businesses using our Services," it had said.

Here again WhatsApp is clearly mentioning that it supplies location, map, and places information to Facebook and third-party service providers. It even says that "you cannot share your location with your contacts if you do not permit us to collect your location data from your device."

Clearly, there is more to the new WhatsApp policy than meets the eye.

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Tags: WhatsApp
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