Serkan Alan / DUVAR
Prof. Dr. Melek Göregenli of social psychology said that the latest discussion revolves around the issue of “loss of control,” creating the question of “Who is in charge?” She said WhatsApp's policy text is so “complicated that an ordinary citizen can never understand what it means and creates a feeling of full submission.”
“Loss of control always leads to anxiety, but this is not the only thing that has led to anxiety concerning this latest issue; the perception of uncertainty with regards who holds the control has also created anxiety,” she said.
She said that the electronic surveillance issue is not something new, but companies are doing this by giving the users “a feeling of optimal control.”
She said that not only are citizens worried about their personal information being exposed “beyond their control,” but also they are scared about the possibility of their messages being shared with the state and authorities. “So not only are we worried about a loss of platform that enables us the freedom to say 'fascist' instead of using the word 'authoritarian' as in social media, but we are also worried about the exposure of personal messages if we are to stand trial for such an expression,” she said.
Asked what she sees the solution as, Göregenli said: “We should fight against the causes, not the results. We need to take an action to get back freedom of speech, at least the first principle of what the law provides us with.” She said that citizens should strive to “rebuild the belief that this society of security and fear can change.”
Dr. Sarphan Uzunoğlu, editor in chief of NewsLabTurkey.org, also commented on WhatApp's new policy roll-out, saying the company took this move when citizens' concern with regards to privacy issues is already quite high. “Under normal conditions, the level of data we provide to companies and states is already at an unimaginable level,” he said.
Asked what the future holds in terms of data privacy issue, he does not foresee regulations changing at least in the short-run.
“The use of applications that are based on ethical rather than commercial concerns, such as Signal, is the only reasonable reaction. As I see people not trusting in WhatsApp and instead running way to BiP, I have doubts as to the rationality of the emerging reactions.”