WhatsApp Messenger Comes Under Scrutiny Over Privacy Practices
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.The report revealed that WhatsApp stores the mobile numbers of non-users from users' contact lists, a violation of Dutch privacy laws. The Dutch Data Protection Authority said it could impose financial penalties if the violations continue.
"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.
In iOS 6, Apple introduced a new feature that required user permission before apps could access the users location, calendar, contacts, reminders and photos. However, the feature does not allow users to only give access to certain contacts -- instead, users are required to give apps access to their entire address book.
WhatsApp Messenger is available for $0.99 on the App Store. [Direct Link]