WhatsApp fingerprint authentication: Will users trust Facebook and allow access to biometrics?
A new update would allow WhatsApp to use your fingerprint credentials stored in the phone with your consent if the app cannot detect your fingerprint
January 15, 2019 / 04:08 PM IST
After the constitutionality of Aadhaar and the government's ability to store data safely were challenged, Indian citizens are on the fence about anything that requires the input of personal information including biometrics. Therefore, it is somewhat concerning that WhatsApp, the most used messaging application in India, may rollout fingerprint authentication for its Android 2.19.3 update.
The Facebook-owned app has over 200 million daily users in India. This update would allow WhatsApp to use your fingerprint credentials stored in the phone with your consent if the app cannot detect your fingerprint.
The messaging app on its own has worked a lot to protect data of its users. Recently, the Centre had asked the app to enable tracking of fake and provocative messages shared on its platform that led to violent incidents across India. WhatsApp stood up to the Centre and refused to break the end-to-end encryption it provides and share the information, saying that it would invade users' privacy.
However, its parent company, Facebook, has had a bad track record when it comes to data protection and privacy. The Mark Zuckerberg-owned company was involved in a major political scandal when it was revealed that it exposed personal data of nearly 87 million Facebook users to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which was working on US President Donald Trump's campaign. Zuckerberg also had to face a Congressional hearing. Facebook had also admitted to the data breach of 50 million Indian users and said that 90 million are at risk in September 2018.
The social media website also shared users' information with advertisers to help them understand their audience better. But after a point, the data was being taken away without the consent of users.
This feature is supposed to add a layer of extra protection, which it does in an amateur way. But, after the year Indian users have had with the way their their data was handled, many are sure to wonder if it is a safe process.