By Kanishk Gaur,
Metadata is mostly the data used to identify your device’s general location, IP addresses, time zone, phone model, OS, battery level, signal strength, browser, mobile network, ISP, language, time zone, usage patterns, diagnostic reports (in case your application crashes) and even IMEI. Another common misconception is that as a result of collecting this, WhatsApp will now know who the user is interacting with on its platform, which is an incorrect inference because WhatsApp doesn’t maintain log of the user. It is worth noting that user metadata is not equivalent to personal data, and every other platform collects it to operate smoothly.
Most of the platforms and apps in the market, such as Signal, Telegram, Discord or even the dark web, allow a user to access them while maintaining their anonymity at the same time. The difference in the identification process across platforms generates the need to store user metadata. If a person using any such platform (which does not store any contact information or metadata) gets threatened by another user or extorted for money and goes to the police to file a complaint, the police will try to find the culprit. But, unfortunately, since these apps/platforms do not store any user data, the police and the victim face a dead end. To prevent online crimes, we should ensure that no one can communicate with us while hiding their identity.
A data protection law is the need of the hour and would go a long way in ensuring uniform industry practices that put user privacy and security at the highest level.
Founder, India Future Foundation
Views are personal