WhatsApp violates privacy laws over phone numbers

WhatsApp contravenes international privacy laws because it forces users to provide access to their entire address book

By - January 28, 2013
WhatsApp

WhatsApp, one of the most popular apps in the world, contravenes international privacy laws because it forces users to provide access to their entire address book, Canadian and Dutch data protection authorities said.

WhatsApp, which ranks as one of the world’s top five best-selling apps, is an instant-messaging application for smartphones including Apple‘s iPhone and Research in Motion‘s Blackberry.

The report comes at a time of increased criticism of internet companies, such as Facebook, over the storing and sharing of personal information.

Produced by California-based WhatsApp Inc, it provides a free internet alternative to SMS, or text messaging, sending more than a billion messages every day.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Dutch Data Protection Authority, in a joint report released on Monday, said the app violated privacy laws because users have to provide access to all phone numbers in their address book, including both users and non-users of the app.

“This lack of choice contravenes (Canadian and Dutch) privacy law. Both users and non-users should have control over their personal data and users must be able to freely decide what contact details they wish to share with WhatsApp,” said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

WhatsApp was not immediately available to comment.

The investigators found that WhatsApp retained the mobile numbers of non-users, contravening privacy laws.

WhatsApp committed to making changes to protect users’ privacy, including allowing the manual addition of contacts, according to the investigators. In September 2012, it introduced encryption for its mobile messaging service, partly in response to concerns raised by the investigation.

The Dutch agency said it would continue to monitor WhatsApp and could impose penalties if privacy continued.

(Reporting by Sara Webb, Editing by Louise Heavens)

More Instant Messaging news

Most popular social networks, IMs on SA mobiles

Mobile instant messaging comparison

Facebook to buy Whatsapp?

Forum discussion

Shutterstock is the image partner of MyBroadband – more technology images

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

Would you pay to see the Internet’s best videos first?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

SKA: ready to build

SKA

The giant radio telescope will attempt to answer some of humanity’s most enigmatic questions

Minister Brown is after me: Eskom chairman

Eskom candle

Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi fingered Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown for orchestrating moves to remove him from the board

Tablets are not toilets

Tablet used in school

There is a direct correlation and a causal relationship between school infrastructure and attendance. Tablets can’t replace roofs, walls, electricity.

Government official racks up R125,000 data roaming porn bill: report

XXX phone and tablet

A government official has racked up a mobile roaming bill of R125,000, where a large part of the data cost was due to watching porn

X

Newsletter Subscription


Name
Email *
Enter the following to confirm your subscription *
Captcha image


Free MyBroadband Newsletter
Subscribe
X
bool(true)