WhatsApp found to breach privacy laws

by Andrew Roach on January 30, 2013

The developers of mobile messaging service WhatsApp have been rocked by findings which found out that the app breaches Canadian privacy laws.

In an investigation carried out by the Canadian privacy watchdog, it was found that many users would have to give the app full access to their contacts details before the service could be used to contact friends.

Even though users may willingly choose to upload their entire contact book onto WhatsApp, there isn’t any other alternative method to manually add contacts onto the service.

The lack of choices has forced developers to make changes to the service otherwise it could lead to severe repercussions for the creators of the WhatsApp service.

WhatsApp has become one of the most popular messaging apps around for mobile devices as it allows users to send messages to their friends through the internet rather than having to rely on SMS methods.

The investigation into WhatsApp began back in January 2012 when The Office of the Privacy Controller became aware of the issue when the discovered it wasn’t possible to use the service without uploading an entire address book.

However, this is only the start of the problem for WhatsApp as security and privacy issues ran deeper into the system with many messages being open to read for curious hackers to intercept and leak.

Furthermore, it had been discovered that passwords were not entirely secure or those who had registered to the service meaning that a third party could potentially send and receive messages without the account holder realising.

The developers behind the WhatsApp team have been quick to react with several quick fixes and patches to try and help overcome the relaxed security settings.

For starters, there is now an encryption key hardcoded into each message to improve the privacy of a conversation between two contacts.

Meanwhile, password security has been stepped up with better protocol included to help users maintain track of what is said and done through their own account.

Luckily, the changes have already been implemented for those who use the service on iOS devices however those that use Android or any other operating system will still have to wait until everything is fully resolved.

With over 100 million users worldwide, the findings will come as an embarrassment to the WhatsApp who will need to be sharper to prevent their reputation sustaining any further damage in the upcoming months.

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Written by: Andrew Roach www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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