It’s been two weeks since all of us did a grand send-off to the year 2020, a little more enthusiastically than we usually would. It’s a given how the previous year had been quite a roller coaster ride for literally the entire world. Hence, we entered this brand new year with a lot of expectations on its shoulders. However, it’s just the first month, and the uproar for yet another controversial topic has been trending! If you’re anything like me, you’ might also love to religiously go through all the News apps and channels and want to be updated with the “top trending” headlines.
One of the most downloaded apps, WhatsApp has over 2 billion users. The application has generated a lot of popularity over the last decade, with all the new exciting features and updates. Its market has grown exponentially, and in India, it’s considered a “necessity.” Whether it’s a family gathering over a video call, handling a business through WhatsApp Business, or trying your luck on a long-distance relationship! That is how much we have come to depend on the app for our day to day functioning.
But, there’s a catch to it! While it does sound like an almost perfect application, it collects data from its users for multiple purposes. Data such as –
- User ID
- Device ID
- Phone number
- Email address
- Coarse location
- Purchase history
- Advertising data
- Crash data
- Performance data
- Payment info
Yet We all were happily video-calling-chatting- posting statuses away until recently WhatsApp shared its newest update that revolves majorly around the user’s privacy.
What happened suddenly that has led to a drastic fall in the number of its users?
One of the reasons this application made its way into the cell phones of millions is its principles and guidelines that protect users’ data and information. The end-to-end encryption of messages and the fact that the data isn’t stored on their server or shared with a third party assured its audience of feeling “protected.”
Now, this may not sound as alarming or even worrisome for most, but it most definitely is. So let me help you out a bit; the keywords here are- Right to Privacy. It is a fundamental right of every individual to have his/her data and/or business information be confidential. While it claims to have our data protected and untouched by their servers, on the other hand, it has given its users a deadline to agree with the said policy by the 8th of February 2021.
Moreover, this particular feature is applicable only in India as European countries and the United States have stricter laws and regulations regarding their citizens’ privacy. This is a red flag that is bothering the majority of the Indian masses, and emerging from this fire is another app that has come to rescue the audience!
Known as “Signal,” a three-year-old company found by the same co-founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton. Albeit it has been three years since its inception, the name has made its round on social media quite frequently over the past few months and more so in January 2021. The ultimate alternative for our basic needs of staying connected with practically everybody, Signal has seen a surge in the number of downloads, especially in the Indian market after the infamous WhatsApp policy. The executive chairman of Signal, a non-profit foundation, Brian Acton co-founded the company with having one clear and simple principle on his mind- privacy. Their USP is hence, privacy. They do not store any of your data except your phone number.
Apart from providing this fundamental right to its users, the application is pretty much like WhatsApp when it comes to sharing messages, videos, voice notes, video calling, etc.
Ergo, it’s a smooth transition. Some of the features that draw a similarity between the two apps are:
- Group video calls
- Group chats
- Disappearing messages
- Built-in image editor and more
Probably for this very reason, thousands of hundreds of Indians have taken this bold step of “boycotting” WhatsApp in order to keep their privacies intact.
WhatsApp vs Signal – security over familiarity?
While more and more people are getting aware of the new policy and its consequences, some are reluctant to renounce an app on which they’ve grown to be so dependent.
However, it has come to everyone’s attention how crucial data privacy is. One must be cautious when sharing details on the internet.
We’re living in an era where our virtual presence defines most of what we are. A result of which has made it easier for us to become even more vulnerable and accessible to various forces out there that we’re not even aware of. The point being, just like the right to equality stands essential and necessary for us, so is our right to privacy, and it’s high time we, as a nation, stand together and take action to ensure that no one takes that away from us.