WhatsApp gives users an ultimatum: Share data with Facebook or stop using the app

 

8jan2021. The new privacy rules do not apply to the European Economical Zone, amongst others, the EU. No worries for European users,  WhatsApp now has two sets of privacy rules. One for Europe, one for the rest of the world.  https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55573149

6jan2021. It seems that WhatsApp is upgrading its privacy terms. Users must now agree with sharing their data with Facebook regardless the privacy settings and earlier promises when WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook. Mind you, there is two different versions of WA’s privacy policy: one for the european economical zone and one for the rest of the world.

 

WhatsApp gives users an ultimatum: Share data with Facebook or stop using the app

WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messenger that claims to have privacy coded into its DNA, is giving its 2 billion plus users an ultimatum: agree to share their personal data with the social network or delete their accounts.

The requirement is being delivered through an in-app alert directing users to agree to sweeping changes in the WhatsApp terms of service. Those who don’t accept the revamped privacy policy by February 8 will no longer be able to use the app.

Share and share alike

Shortly after Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, its developers built state-of-the-art end-to-end encryption into the messaging app. The move was seen as a victory for privacy advocates because it used the Signal Protocol, an open source encryption scheme whose source code has been reviewed and audited by scores of independent security experts.

In 2016, WhatsApp gave users a one-time ability to opt out of having account data turned over to Facebook. Now, an updated privacy policy is changing that. Come next month, users will no longer have that choice. Some of the data that WhatsApp collects includes:

  • User phone numbers
  • Other people’s phone numbers stored in address books
  • Profile names
  • Profile pictures and
  • Status message including when a user was last online
  • Diagnostic data collected from app logs

Under the new terms, Facebook reserves the right to share collected data with its family of companies.

“As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies,” the new privacy policy states. “We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”

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In some cases, such as when someone uses WhatsApp to interact with third-party businesses, Facebook may also share information with those outside entities.

A lack of transparency

The move comes a month after Apple started requiring iOS app makers, including WhatsApp, to detail the information they collect from users. WhatsApp, according to the App Store, reserves the right to collect:

  • Purchases
  • Financial information
  • Location
  • Contacts
  • User content
  • Identifiers
  • Usage data and
  • Diagnostics

A WhatsApp spokeswoman declined to speak on the record about the changes and precisely how or if it’s possible for users to opt out of them. She agreed to email additional information on the condition it be kept on background, meaning none of the details can be quoted verbatim.

The move, the spokeswoman said, is part of a previously disclosed move to allow businesses to store and manage WhatsApp chats using Facebook’s infrastructure. Users won’t have to use WhatsApp to interact with the businesses and have the option of blocking the businesses. She said there will be no change in how WhatsApp shares provides data with Facebook for non-business chats and account data.

Together, the WhatsApp privacy policy and terms of service are more than 8,000 words long and are filled with legal jargon that makes it difficult for non-lawyers to understand. WhatsApp is doing its users a disservice by not agreeing to speak on the record so that reporters can fully understand the changes and explain them to readers.

People who object to the new terms and policy should consider using a different messenger. The Signal messenger provides the same robust encryption engine with a much more transparent privacy policy and terms of service. (Those documents are half the length of those from WhatsApp, too.) Besides providing encrypted chats, Signal also offers encrypted audio and video calls.

Post updated to add details in the third-to-last paragraph.

Tech Tent: Breaking up Facebook

In a landmark lawsuit, US regulators have accused Facebook of buying up rivals in order to stifle competition.

They have made it clear they will seek a drastic remedy – the sale of Instagram and WhatsApp. On this week’s Tech Tent we ask whether it is really likely that the social media giant’s empire will be dismantled.

 

New York Attorney General Letitia James could hardly have been clearer in her denunciation as she outlined the case she and more than 45 other state and federal regulators are bringing against Facebook.

“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals, and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,” she said.

‘A key moment’

Among the remedies the regulators are seeking from the courts for what they describe as Facebook’s “buy or bury” strategy towards potential rivals are “the divestiture or restructuring of illegally acquired companies”.

And that could mean selling off Instagram, bought for $1bn in 2012 when it had just 13 employees, and WhatsApp, for which it paid $16bn – which seemed an outlandish price in 2014.

Since that purchase, the price of Facebook shares has risen more than fourfold, and the company is now worth nearly $800bn.

“This is a key moment,” Damian Collins, the British MP who chaired a parliamentary inquiry severely critical of Facebook, tells Tech Tent.

“It was always going to take leadership by the authorities in America to bring the anti-trust case against Facebook and to make the case for some form of separation of the different businesses.”

Mr Collins believes some of the documents uncovered during his select committee inquiry provided evidence reinforcing the US regulators’ case.

“What these documents showed was how Facebook used its market power to put pressure on other companies to do deals on data that favoured Facebook; to give privileged access to data to companies that were important to Facebook and spent a lot of money with them; how it used data to analyse the apps people use, so it could determine which apps were potentially a threat.”

But Facebook has made it clear it will mount a fierce legal battle against any moves to break it up.

Because its purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram were not blocked by regulators at the time it’s accusing the government of wanting “a do-over”, which will harm the broader business community.

And one leading expert on competition regulation tells Tech Tent he thinks Facebook will probably avoid a break-up.

‘Politics, not law’

“The US Supreme Court has been very sceptical about monopoly cases,” says John Fingleton, former head of the UK’s Office of Fair Trading. He watched the regulators outlining their case with some scepticism.

“Saying that they want to break up the business before they get through the court process seemed to me to be more about the politics of it than about the economics and the law.”

Still, both John Fingleton and Damian Collins believe that a long legal battle will have an impact on the way Facebook and others do business. The MP hopes the social media giant will now be unable to buy or squash smaller rivals and that will mean more innovation.

And the competition expert says the case shows a major shift in US competition policy, which has previously focused solely on the immediate impact on consumers in the form of higher prices.

“In the last 30 or 40 years,” says Mr Fingleton, “we’ve seen competition has been about protecting consumers, not protecting competitors. But a lot of the cases one sees more recently have much more of a flavour of protecting competitors.”

Perhaps what happened in a previous clash between a US tech giant and the regulators is a foretaste of what will happen to Facebook.

Microsoft spent many years fighting the US Department of Justice which wanted to break it up.

It avoided that outcome, but the world moved on and the software giant, no longer seen as an anti-competitive menace, is thriving without attracting much attention from the regulators.

Facebook may hope that history repeats itself.

Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent
@BBCRoryCJon Twitter

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BBC News: TikTok faces legal action from 12-year-old girl in England

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Drie mannen vast voor grootschalige WhatsAppfraude

De politie heeft drie mannen aangehouden voor het bestelen van vermoedelijk een groot aantal mensen via WhatsAppfraude.

De verdachten uit Rotterdam en omgeving zouden daarbij minimaal tien telefoons en per telefoon vele verschillende simkaarten hebben gebruikt.

Bij WhatsAppfraude krijgt iemand een bericht dat een vriend, familielid of andere bekende dringend financiële hulp nodig heeft. “De mannen wisten alleen al in de maand oktober minimaal 45.000 euro van veelal oudere mensen af te troggelen”, aldus de politie.

www.rtlnieuws.nl/tech/artikel/5205963/drie-mannen-vast-voor-grootschalige-whatsappfraude

Tech Tent: Breaking up Facebook

Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent
@BBCRoryCJon Twitter

Mark Zuckerberg holds the logos of Whatsapp and Instagram in his raised hands in this photo illustrationimage copyrightGetty Images

In a landmark lawsuit, US regulators have accused Facebook of buying up rivals in order to stifle competition.

They have made it clear they will seek a drastic remedy – the sale of Instagram and WhatsApp. On this week’s Tech Tent we ask whether it is really likely that the social media giant’s empire will be dismantled.

Podcast available now

  • Listen to the latest Tech Tent podcast on BBC Sounds
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line

New York Attorney General Letitia James could hardly have been clearer in her denunciation as she outlined the case she and more than 45 other state and federal regulators are bringing against Facebook.

“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals, and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,” she said.

 

‘A key moment’

 

Among the remedies the regulators are seeking from the courts for what they describe as Facebook’s “buy or bury” strategy towards potential rivals are “the divestiture or restructuring of illegally acquired companies”.

And that could mean selling off Instagram, bought for $1bn in 2012 when it had just 13 employees, and WhatsApp, for which it paid $16bn – which seemed an outlandish price in 2014.

Since that purchase, the price of Facebook shares has risen more than fourfold, and the company is now worth nearly $800bn.

“This is a key moment,” Damian Collins, the British MP who chaired a parliamentary inquiry severely critical of Facebook, tells Tech Tent.

“It was always going to take leadership by the authorities in America to bring the anti-trust case against Facebook and to make the case for some form of separation of the different businesses.”

Mr Collins believes some of the documents uncovered during his select committee inquiry provided evidence reinforcing the US regulators’ case.

“What these documents showed was how Facebook used its market power to put pressure on other companies to do deals on data that favoured Facebook; to give privileged access to data to companies that were important to Facebook and spent a lot of money with them; how it used data to analyse the apps people use, so it could determine which apps were potentially a threat.”

But Facebook has made it clear it will mount a fierce legal battle against any moves to break it up.

Because its purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram were not blocked by regulators at the time it’s accusing the government of wanting “a do-over”, which will harm the broader business community.

And one leading expert on competition regulation tells Tech Tent he thinks Facebook will probably avoid a break-up.

 

‘Politics, not law’

 

“The US Supreme Court has been very sceptical about monopoly cases,” says John Fingleton, former head of the UK’s Office of Fair Trading. He watched the regulators outlining their case with some scepticism.

“Saying that they want to break up the business before they get through the court process seemed to me to be more about the politics of it than about the economics and the law.”

Still, both John Fingleton and Damian Collins believe that a long legal battle will have an impact on the way Facebook and others do business. The MP hopes the social media giant will now be unable to buy or squash smaller rivals and that will mean more innovation.

And the competition expert says the case shows a major shift in US competition policy, which has previously focused solely on the immediate impact on consumers in the form of higher prices.

“In the last 30 or 40 years,” says Mr Fingleton, “we’ve seen competition has been about protecting consumers, not protecting competitors. But a lot of the cases one sees more recently have much more of a flavour of protecting competitors.”

Perhaps what happened in a previous clash between a US tech giant and the regulators is a foretaste of what will happen to Facebook.

Microsoft spent many years fighting the US Department of Justice which wanted to break it up.

It avoided that outcome, but the world moved on and the software giant, no longer seen as an anti-competitive menace, is thriving without attracting much attention from the regulators.

Facebook may hope that history repeats itself.