WhatsApp will soon start sharing your data with Facebook if you live outside of Europe. The highly popular messaging service was purchased by Mark Zuckerberg’s company back in 2014. During this acquisition users were told their data would be kept private and not shared with its new parent company.
WhatsApp went on to reverse this pledge in 2016 and started sharing data with Facebook, although they allowed users to opt out.
Facebook has a history of security breaches and operates a policy of making of act first apologise later. Some of the simple security mistakes the company had made include the storing passwords in plain text which were accessed.
Now an upcoming update, the company confirms that personal data will be shared with Facebook as a condition of using the app and users who do not agree to these new terms will no longer be able to use the app. Users have already started to receive the prompt to agree to the new terms.
WhatsApp's revised policy also spells out the kind of information it gathers from users' devices: hardware model, operating system information, battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP), language and time zone, IP address, device operations information, and identifiers (including identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).
"Even if you do not use our location-related features, we use IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (e.g., city and country)," WhatsApp updated policy reads.
Currently European users can breath a brief sigh of relief thanks to tougher privacy laws in Europe, including the UK Facebook is not making any changes yet but may do so in the future and given the company's tendancy they probably will make these changes. Facebook is due to move the UK out of the EU’s privacy jurisdiction at some point this year, now that Brexit has been completed.
Outside of Europe, these new terms allow Whatsapp to share your data with Facebook to display personalised adverts among other things.
WhatsApp only benefit is that it does use end-to-end encryption, so cannot see or share the contents of your messages or calls, but how much of this is hidden from Facebook remains unclear. Elon musk has also tweeted out that he plans to switch to the secure messaging app signal. Edward Snowden has previously confirmed that Signal is his app of choice and given Facebook likes to invade users privacy as much as possible I have decided cease using WhatsApp and we'll be using signal full time. I highly encourage anyone who cares slightly about their privacy also look at switching to a more secure app such as signal or even telegram.
The Signal app is free to download and was developed to send encrypted text, image, audio, and video messages for individuals and groups. It can also be used for encrypted phone calls between Signal users for mobile users.
We previously covered Signal and covered the benefits and since then the app has continued to get better. Thankfully Android allows users to set signal as a default messaging service and and allows users to invite their contacts to also join some messages can be encrypted.