At a glance.
- WhatsApp will share user data with corporate sister Facebook.
- Apple's privacy labeling.
WhatsApp to share user data with Facebook.
Starting next month, Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp will require users to allow the app to share their info with Facebook, reports Ars Technica. Users will be alerted to the changes in the app’s terms of service, but there is no choice to opt-out; it’s either agree to the terms, or stop using the app. When WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook in 2014, developers incorporated end-to-end encryption, a move that labeled WhatsApp as a leader in data protection. But while encryption protects user messages from prying eyes, it does not protect other data like profile photos or address books from being shared and collected. A spokesperson for WhatsApp stated that the change is related to a recent decision to allow businesses to manage WhatsApp conversations through Facebook’s infrastructure, and that it should not affect user data outside of these interactions. Technology lawyer Mishi Choudhary told the Times of India that, while countries like the UK and France have regulations in place to protect user data, the "constant dithering and incoherent approach of our legislators around the Data Protection Law has left Indians unprotected.”
Reactions to Apple’s new privacy requirements.
The effectiveness of these labels also depends on the app makers’ willingness to be upfront about their privacy policies, and as data sharing is a major source of revenue, pushback is expected. It was rumored that Google might be unwilling to comply and that this was the reason behind the tech giant’s refusal to update any of its apps since December 7, conveniently just one day prior to Apple’s announcement about the new requirements. But TechCrunch theorizes that the rumors are likely unfounded, as Google traditionally puts a hold on all updates in December in order to avoid any issues during the winter staff break.
Still, Ars Technica reports that app makers are trying to find ways around Apple’s more restrictive privacy policies. An upcoming iPhone update will block the use of IDFA advertising identifiers without getting express user consent, and many apps are worried most users will deny consent when explicitly asked. Some developers might use workarounds like device fingerprinting or hashed emails, methods that are also banned by Apple, but are not as easy to detect.