Mic WrightReporter, TNW
Mic Wright is a journalist specialising in technology, music and popular culture. He lives in Dublin. He is on Twitter at @brokenbottleboy. Mic Wright is a journalist specialising in technology, music and popular culture. He lives in Dublin. He is on Twitter at @brokenbottleboy.
WhatsApp has come out worst in the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s (EEF) annual ‘Who’s Got Your Back?’ report, which looks at privacy concerns and government requests for data.
The five criteria are:
- Follows industry-accepted best practices
- Tells users about government data demands
- Discloses policies on data retention
- Discloses government content removal requests
- Pro-user public policy: opposes backdoors.
The Facebook-owned messaging app is the only company or service in the study to receive a one-star rating.
The online freedom and privacy advocacy group says WhatsApp does not require a warrant before it provides content to law enforcement agencies and does not publish a transparency report or guide to how it deals with requests.
The messaging service also doesn’t offer a promise to users that they will receive advance notice about government data demands. The report goes on to criticize it for failing to publish information on data retention polices or content removal requests, i.e. when accounts are shut down.
The one area WhatsApp gets credit stems from Facebook’s publicly stated policy opposing the inclusion of backdoors that can be exploited by government agencies.
Adobe, Apple and Dropbox all received five-star ratings in the report, along with Wikimedia, Credo Mobile, WordPress and Yahoo.
WhatsApp’s owner Facebook got four stars, dropping for one failure to adequately disclose government content removal requests. You can see the whole table here.
I’ve contacted WhatsApp for comment and will update this post if and when it provides a response.
➤ Who Has Your Back? [EFF]
Read next: Privacy in the Internet of Things era: Will the NSA know what’s in your fridge?
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