“Security Updates Do Not Expose Users To Risk”

Prof. Ebot Ebot Enaw, General Manager Of The National Agency For Information And Communication Technologies (Antic).

WhatsApp has of recent been resending its privacy agreement to its different users. What according to you could be responsible for this?
It is worth noting that Social Media Platforms or Applications in general do update their systems regularly, and may as required send out new/updated privacy and user agreements to their users. WhatsApp Corporation, in January 2021, issued a statement stating its intention to update its Privacy Policy, which includes amongst other things the collection and sharing of metadata with companies starting February 2021. After such an update, it is only normal that users’ compliance be solicited to ensure continued access to the platform. According to WhatsApp Corporation, the metadata to be collected and shared include: mobile phone hardware model, Operating System, time zone, IP address, user location, profile pictures and status, phone numbers, information about contacts, which are saved in the user’s WhatsApp application, etc. In a bid to sensitize users about the updates made on its privacy agreement, WhatsApp decided to postpone the implementation of the new privacy policy planned to begin from February 8, 2021 to May 15, 2021. 
Many WhatsApp users seem not to understand what is happening and turn to close the page. Are users obliged to respond to the security/privacy questions on that page?
Users of online applications such as WhatsApp are advised to immediately download and install updates once they become available for improved performance and security since updates generally address performance and security issues discovered in previous versions. As part of the update process, some applications may require users to sign-up to the updated/new user privacy policy agreement.
Are there any risks that await users who do respond to the security/privacy measures on the platform?
Security updates/User privacy and security agreements are not meant to expose users to risk…but rather, to provide assurance vis-à-vis certain updates by the System provider. Hence, failure to respond/update/renew user privacy agreements/systems/applications could expose users to non-compliance restrictions and vulnerabilities inherent in an older version.
In the same light, WhatsApp cannot access user messages, thanks to the strong encryption mechanism put in place by WhatsApp Corporation.
Some WhatsApp users say they have filled the page but the page keeps coming up, what could explain this?
It is important users thoroughly go through the process and ensure the forms are duly filled and submitted, if the process is not satisfactorily completed, users could be prompted to respond and re-submit until the process is completed.
Is your organisation in contact with WhatsApp to protect the interest of its consumers in Cameroon?
The fact that WhatsApp has over two billion users worldwide gives it a lot of leverage which cannot be undermined. As a regulator of cyber security, ANTIC has the responsibility to liaise with WhatsApp and other Platforms to protect the interest of Cameroonian consumers and to secure the Cameroonian cyberspace. Partnership agreements have already been signed with some of these platforms in a bid to improve user experience and satisfaction.

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