Turkey: Erdogan’s media office quits WhatsApp over privacy change
Turkish presidency will switch to local app BiP to brief journalists following WhatsApp’s controversial new usage terms.
In statements made through WhatsApp on Sunday, presidency officials said that media office will update journalists via BiP, a unit of Turkish communication company Turkcell, from Monday.
According to Turkish state media quoting Turkcell, BiP gained more than 1.12 million users in just 24 hours, boasting more than 53 million users worldwide.
Alternations made to WhatsApp’s terms and services will be effective from February 8 and they will allow it to share data with parent company Facebook and its other subsidiaries.
Users have to agree to the new terms in order to be able to keep using the application after the deadline.
On Saturday, Ali Taha Koc, head of the Turkish Presidential Digital Transformation Office, criticised WhatsApp’s new terms of services and the exemption from the new data-sharing rules for users in the United Kingdom and the European Union.
He called on Turks to use “national and local” apps such as BiP and Dedi.
“The distinction between EU member countries and others in terms of data privacy is unacceptable! As we have cited in the Information and Communication Security Guideline, foreign origin applications bear significant risks regarding data security,” Koc said in a tweet.
“That’s why we need to protect our digital data with local and national software and develop them in line with our needs. Let’s not forget that Turkey’s data would stay in Turkey thanks to local and national solutions.”
The firm said the updated terms will allow additional sharing of information between WhatsApp and Facebook and its other applications like Instagram and Messenger such as contacts and profile data but not the content of messages which remain encrypted.
Facebook aims to monetise WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact their clients via the platform and to sell them products directly using the service, as they already do in India.
Facebook has come under increasing pressure from regulators as it tries to integrate its services.
In 2017, the EU fined the US social media giant 110 million euros (then $120m) for providing incorrect and misleading information about its 2014 takeover of WhatsApp concerning the ability to link accounts between the services.
Federal and state regulators in the US have accused Facebook of using its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram to crush competition and filed antitrust lawsuits last month that aim to force the company to divest from them.
In November, Turkey fined global social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, 10 million lira ($1.18m) each for not complying with a new social media law.
The new law, which came into effect in October, requires platforms with more than one million daily users in Turkey to appoint a representative accountable to Turkish courts, abide by orders to remove “offensive” content within 48 hours and store user data inside Turkey.