WhatsApp Messenger Comes Under Scrutiny Over Privacy Practices

Monday January 28, 2013 9:34 AM PST by Jordan Golson

WhatsappWhatsApp Messenger, a popular cross-platform SMS and group chat replacement, is the subject of a joint report between Canadian and Dutch authorities. The report says the app violates the countries' privacy laws because users are required to give the company access to both users and non-users in its address book, reports Reuters.

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.

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.

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]

Top Rated Comments

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94 months ago

Never did understand all the hype about this app.


Imagine iMessage, but with way more features, for all smartphone platforms...
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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94 months ago
Say whatever you want: WhatsApp is one of the BEST apps!
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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94 months ago
That's the whole purpose of the application though!

It needs to know what all your numbers are, so you can easily message them without needing any additional information.

Viber does it too.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
94 months ago
WhatsApp is outdated, slow and lacks features.

If you travel often, you'll notice that WhatsApp user identifier goes by the phone number and is tied to the phone number, once you change phone numbers you'll be prevented from entering previous conversations and everyone would need to manually update your phone number.

I use Line instead, its same as iMessage, except it works on every platform including PC and Mac.

Line, unlike WhatsApp, lets you register your account with email after the SMS confirmation on your device, so you can switch sim cards and still have a fully working contact list, your friends probably won't even know about it.

And when you're on your computer, it has a feature that lets you stop notifications going to your phone and automatically turns on the notifications when you're away from your computer for 3 minutes.

Line also has free voice calls via data thats similar to Viber.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
94 months ago

Never did understand all the hype about this app.

I ignored this app for the longest time, but now I can't live without it. It's really well-designed and has a rich feature set. I use it daily to communicate with my friends around the world. No risk of running up texting charges. I just wish there was an iPad and Mac version of the app like there is for iMessage.

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no, it only works with phones because it needs a phone number


It can work on non-phone devices if you authenticate using your phone's number. But then the phone can't use the app. Essentially, it's restricted to one phone number per device.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
94 months ago
it makes sense in this case tho ...

as soon as your friends get whatsapp they simply pop up on your contacts list within whatsapp, no need to search or add them
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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