11:32 29th Jan, 2013
WhatsApp Violates Privacy Laws Over Phone Numbers, Says A Govt. Report
The report comes at a time of increased criticism of internet companies, such as Facebook, over the storing and sharing of personal information.
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. 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)
- Bobble AI bullish on growing business via regional content; announces dedicated keyboard in Malayalam
- Acer India launches business PC at Just Rs 9999
- TCL 4K QLED with Hands Free AI TV Pre-booking Coming Soon at Reliance Digital
- Linksys India Launches VELOP MX5300 WIFI 6 Mesh System
- Acer introduces Nitro 5, its first 10th Gen Intel® Core™ Gaming Laptop
- Barco Introduces New Series of Advanced Video Processing and Presentation Control Systems
- NETGEAR Orbi RBK50 Mesh System to Augment Your Home Wi-Fi Network for Improved Work Efficiency
- Motorola announces its new flagship in India with the Fastest, Loudest, Boldest; motorola edge+
- Surface Pro X, Surface Pro 7 and Surface Laptop 3 are now available in India
- Genelec Announces 1235A: Classic Heritage, Cutting Edge Performance