A few days into the year 2021, Facebook gifted the world an ultimatum to share their Whatsapp data with Facebook. I posted the linked news article in some of the Whatsapp groups I’m part of, suggesting everyone to migrate to Telegram (or Signal or any other safer platform). This was the tinder that ignited the fiery debate of “stay vs move” in those channels - some more pervasive, persistent and passionate than others.

Most discussions over Privacy almost always include someone saying:

“We are not doing anything wrong. Why should we care if they’re monitoring more of our data?”

I don’t hold anything against individuals with this outlook, for I too had a similarly misplaced notion of Privacy until couple of years ago. What changed my perception was understanding that privacy is not about hiding something. Privacy is about Consent. It’s about having the choice of sharing or not sharing your data with an individual, group or organization.

Here’s a succinct 25 second description from Snowden:

While I don’t have a meth lab running in my house, I still don’t want a 1984-esque telescreen in my room that’s constantly watching me. I’m not doing anything wrong but if the cops show up at my doorstep, wanting to search the premises - I don’t have to let them in without a warrant.

“Companies already have all our data, so this is just another drop in the ocean”, is normalizing our already rapid decent into a dystopian future entirely devoid of privacy.

While everyone agrees that Rome wasn’t built in a day, rest assured, neither was China and its massive surveillance apparatus. Civil liberties are slowly chipped away, not suddenly snatched. Facebook by itself is powerful enough to tip elections. Armed with Whatsapp’s data, it’s going to be an even bigger propaganda machine.

Please note that I’m not pushing anyone to abandon Whatsapp. Whether you continue to use the app or not is your…“Choice” - and I respect that. But you know who doesn’t respect your prerogative to choose? Facebook!

Interestingly Whatsapp’s new policy changes will not be applied in European nations because of GDPR. Makes you wonder.