We discussed about WhatsApp charging Android users causing worldwide concerns. Following the official announcement from the messaging giant regarding their charging schemes to relieve the public sentiment, another negative news holding WhatsApp responsible for suspected violation of International Phone Number Privacy Laws is on the rise. Do you still remember what you get next after the first time you installed and opened WhatsApp? WhatsApp would ask every users to submit their phone numbers before letting you in. Not only they ask you to key in your phone number in exchange for the activation code, but WhatsApp also prompts you with pop up message asking you to allow the application to access your address book, where hundreds or thousands numbers of your friends and relatives would be processed and mix and match for your WhatsApp contact list. If you opt not to grant such a right to WhatsApp, it returns a message warning you if you don’t do so it would limit the functionality of WhatsApp.
Now officials of Privacy Commissioner of Canada and DutchData Protection Authority have announced that the app infringes privacy laws. Their allegations include taking control of the address book, commandeering all the contacts within.
“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.” says spokesperson of the Dutch Data Protection Authority
The agencies will keep an eye on the Application and they don’t deny possible penalties if WhatsApp still doesn’t work to protect consumers’ privacy. No official replies from WhatsApp seen yet.
Scandals about WhatsApp recently is reaching a peak. As I have said many times, we do have choice in taking an application you feel safe. For example, in LINE, you don’t need to register with your phone number nor letting them have your friends’ phone number. You can actually register with your email (well, its another privacy issue), and add your friends by their user ID or QR code…etc. There are many other ways that application developer get hold of your private information, it just depends on whether you trust them of not. What I strongly advice here is that we better not disclose any sensitive or private information through any of these messaging channels because you’ll never know what’s going on in the backstage. WhatsApp might just be unlucky this time, but I truly don’t hope that users become unlucky next time.
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