Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Dutch and Canadian Authorities Criticize WhatsApp Over Privacy

Dutch and Canadian privacy authorities today released the results of an investigation into the way mobile messaging service WhatsApp handles public information.

whatsapp_logoThe agencies said they worked together over the past year, and that Mountain View, Calif.-based WhatsApp fully cooperated with the investigation and has already made multiple suggested changes around encryption and authentication.

However, there’s one more problem they want WhatsApp to address: On phones that aren’t running iOS 6, WhatsApp users don’t have a choice to manually add contacts — they must grant access to their entire address book.

Said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority, “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.”

WhatsApp is available on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Symbian and Nokia Series 40. It has hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

The agencies aren’t yet imposing sanctions on WhatsApp; the Dutch said they were still deciding, while the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada does not have order-making powers.

WhatsApp did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald