WhatsApp violates privacy laws over phone numbers - report

AMSTERDAM Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:27pm IST

An unidentified woman texts on her mobile phone as she walks along Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California December 3 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

An unidentified woman texts on her mobile phone as she walks along Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California December 3 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - WhatsApp, one of the most popular apps in the world, contravenes international privacy laws because it forces users to provide access to their entire address book, Canadian and Dutch data protection authorities said.

WhatsApp, which ranks as one of the world's top five best-selling apps, is an instant-messaging application for smartphones including Apple's (AAPL.O) iPhone and Research in Motion'sRIM.TO Blackberry.

The report comes at a time of increased criticism of internet companies, such as Facebook(FB.O), over the storing and sharing of personal information.

Produced by California-based WhatsApp Inc, it provides a free internet alternative to SMS, or text messaging, sending more than a billion messages every day.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Dutch Data Protection Authority, in a joint report released on Monday, said the app violated privacy laws because users have to provide access to all phone numbers in their address book, including both users and non-users of the app.

"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," said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

WhatsApp was not immediately available to comment.

The investigators found that WhatsApp retained the mobile numbers of non-users, contravening privacy laws.

WhatsApp committed to making changes to protect users' privacy, including allowing the manual addition of contacts, according to the investigators. In September 2012, it introduced encryption for its mobile messaging service, partly in response to concerns raised by the investigation.

The Dutch agency said it would continue to monitor WhatsApp and could impose penalties if privacy continued.

(Reporting by Sara Webb, Editing by Louise Heavens)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Economic Pulse

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Deregulation Impact

Deregulation Impact

Private fuel retailers to dip toe, not dive back, into India  Full Article 

Gold Import

Gold Import

RBI will not change gold import rules - sources  Full Article 

Idea Results

Idea Results

Idea Cellular Q2 profit up 69 percent  Full Article 

An RBI First

An RBI First

RBI releases minutes of financial stability council's Aug meet  Full Article 

Global Shares

Global Shares

Japanese stocks lead shares worldwide, IBM weighs on Dow  Full Article 

IBM Chip Unit

IBM Chip Unit

IBM to pay Globalfoundries to take chip unit  Full Article 

IBM Earnings

IBM Earnings

IBM ditches 2015 operating EPS target, shares slump 7 pct  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage