South Africa: To WhatsApp or Not to WhatsApp - Safeguard Your Data - the Law Is On Your Side

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South Africa has implemented the Protection of Personal Information Act, according to which you have to give specific, wilful and informed consent for any party to use your personal information.

A number of cartoons in circulation feature Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg secretly reading or listening to our WhatsApp messages and chats. At the heart of it is worldwide concern about WhatsApp (which Facebook owns) accessing and using personal information.

This was compounded by its recent, updated privacy policy which gives WhatsApp greater access to what it calls data, including transaction data and user details such as their email addresses and phone numbers. This sharing extends, by association, to all the products and services that Facebook, as a tech conglomerate, owns.

WhatsApp elicited global outrage over its perceived upping of invasion of privacy. Facebook responded by postponing the updated policy implementation from 8 February to 15 May 2021 while it negotiates with countries, including South Africa, on the regulations governing privacy of information.

WhatsApp said it does not have access to private information such as individual conversations and that these are end-to-end encrypted. It claims its new policy only gives it access to "data" as opposed to "personal information". What is concerning,...

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