The Peril in WhatsApp’s Porous Privacy Policies
Anurag Lal, President and CEO of Infinite Convergence.
WhatsApp’s privacy policies also recently put the company in hot water with Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC). The DPC fined Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service nearly $270 million for not being transparent about how it uses data collected. The ruling noted that WhatsApp did not meet its “transparency obligations” to make clear disclosures about the processing of information between it and other Facebook companies.
WhatsApp’s porous privacy policies don’t deliver on Facebook’s assurances that it would keep data private when the company bought WhatsApp in 2014. In 2016, just two years later WhatsApp disclosed the company would begin sharing user data with Facebook in a move to generate revenue.
A recent ProPublica article noted that “the privacy page for WhatsApp assures users that they have total control over their own metadata. It says users can ‘decide if only contacts, everyone, or nobody can see your profile photo’ or when they last opened their status updates or when they last opened the app. Regardless of the settings a user chooses, WhatsApp collects and analyzes all of that data — a fact not mentioned anywhere on the page.”
As WhatsApp continues to be the target of security and privacy issues, the company is hoping to reassure users by launching a 'Message Privately' global campaign to underscore its commitment to privacy and provide further clarity about how privacy and security works on the platform.
No ad campaign can change the fact that WhatsApp is simply not committed to privacy. Nothing about collecting, sharing and analyzing user data describes privacy. Just the opposite. It puts users in peril of having their data exposed.