back to article Careless Whisper? Anonymous messaging app accused of stalking users, blabbing to Feds

The makers of Whisper have denied claims that the anonymous messaging app is secretly tracking the whereabouts of its privacy-conscious users. The startup hit back following reports that detailed location logs are shared with the US government. Whisper is a two-year-old phone app that allows people to publish text overlaid on …

  1. Woza
    Unhappy

    "peeps"?

    No, just no.

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: "peeps"?

      Sign up for *any* mainstream media applications.

      They want your contacts, online account details, friend lists, e-mail contact lists, files, camera, microphone, *all files* on your system access, one even wanted me to register my scrotum print.

      OK, I made the last one up for levity's sake.

      We'll suffice it to say, that app was not installed, but we consider the device still possibly contaminated.

      That is *my* level of faith in any crApp store, be it Apple or otherwise.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Profit motive

    Assuming the Guardian report is correct and Whisper does more than it says on the tin, what's the financial thinking behind it?

    Normally a startup creates an app hoping it will take off and make millions, but in this (alleged) case the scam is bound to be uncovered eventually, and almost certainly before it gets really big. So is this just a quick and dirty app designed to uncover "juicy" tidbits for sale to the press, for as long as possible? Is there enough likely ROI for that to be a viable business strategy?

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: Profit motive

      Well, there is financial profit, then there is intelligence profit.

      This is orders of magnitude lower in both human effort hours an computing hours.

      Right now, it's mined and stored at various locations.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If we believe you

    - If Whisper can't know coarse location

    - If it doesn't track users

    - If all the data is anonymized and cannot point to an individual

    Then what the fu**ing info they shared with the feds.

    And you, foolish, idiot Anonymous commentard! Fu** you right there!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: If we believe you

      I guess they would hand the feds a blank piece of paper? or maybe they use invisible ink since this spy stuff.

  4. Spasticus Autisticus

    Time scale

    "brief period of time" - against what scale, the age of the earth? the life span of a fly?

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Holmes

    Shrug

    Software company lies.

  6. VinceH
    Big Brother

    "Yes, Whisper has an ed-in-chief because the site works closely with news outlets such as BuzzFeed and the Guardian, sharing juicy anonymous posts with newshounds to turn them into stories"

    And any suggestions that in future his role will be to release somewhat less anonymous posts when certain people - such as the sex crazed lobbyist mentioned - don't pay their protection fees are completely unfounded.

  7. ukgnome

    This sounds like a government sponsored app that's used to collect data in an innocuous way. If that's the case then it's a clever ruse. I'm not a tin foil hat wearer but it is a bit creepy.

    I have used the app when it came out and found it a bit creepy (I use a lot of social media) , there are are a lot of people using it as hook up app as well as a lot of people using as a way of posting coded messages (speculation). You just have to look at whispers Twitter feed to see some of the things they cream from the whisper feeds.

    Anyone that thinks selecting Anonymous will obscure there identity is a douche, even on here the vulture knows.

    1. Ralph B

      > This sounds like a government sponsored app that's used to collect data in an innocuous way. If that's the case then it's a clever ruse.

      You mean, just like Facebook?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Business Idea?

    How about creating an app that records every fucking thing a user do, then sell the information to american 3 letter agencies?

    1. solo

      Re: Business Idea?

      There is already an app for that

  9. 404

    1st Rule of Fight Club....

    '"He's a guy that we'll track for the rest of his life and he'll have no idea we'll be watching him," the Whisper executive allegedly said.'

    IT humans being IT humans... gossip about users - geeks* waving their privates at each other.

    ;)

    *or so I've been told.

  10. Cipher
    Big Brother

    I think the code snippet tells the tale: If they're lying about the 500 meters, which seems apparent, then any other denials they make are more than a bit suspect.

    Another benefit of Mr. Snowden's revelations - everything is being examined, no one is trusted...

    1. phil dude
      Black Helicopters

      fixed it for you...

      "Another benefit of Mr. Snowden's revelations - everything is being examined, no one is can be trusted..."

      The government has made it illegal to tell the truth.

      P.

  11. DropBear Silver badge

    Tell you what...

    ...any "privacy oriented" app that requests access to my location - with ANY granularity - gets laughed out of existence immediately as far as I'm concerned.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black box

    People are idiots to use technology they don't understand, for anything that matters. Closed source? Pass. Open source but the code is tl;dr? Pass. That's ~99.999% of useful software.

    Someday, maybe, we'll use dedicated secure comm boxes running a minimal, auditable, inflexible OS. Like phones without all the 'smart' crap. I think people are prepared to accept that tradeoff, but the current network protocols and file formats (pdf, docx, html even) are too inherently complex to allow for a simple enough implementation.

  13. Captain DaFt

    OK, who the Hell is this naive?

    Sorry, but my assessment of average human intellect just took a nosedive.

    Trusting your secrets to a third party, of unknown provenance, on their say-so? Just because they have a shiny app? And paid them for the privilege?

    Baal's Balls, they didn't even pinkie swear not to tell!

    ...

    The one silver lining is, that the zombie apocalypse will be short lived since they'll all rapidly starve for want of brains to feed on!

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    TL:DR version. US company + THE PATRIOT Act --> NO expecation of privacy.

    File for future reference until its repealed, not amended.

  15. Michael C.

    Wait, let's review the facts.

    Any service with geolocation features, like twitter for instance, stores your location against your postings ...

    For those who have opted out, they store IP based location guesses .. so what, any simple web stats application I've ever used in the last 10 years has done IP location. I'm sure El Reg have those stats too.

    They share information with government in compliance with US law .. like every other tech company in the states.

    What am I missing here?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait, let's review the facts.

      "What am I missing here?"

      That your carrier keeps records of IMEI vs IP allotment on cell towers, allowing the spooks to connect you to both your exact location and personal phone at time of use.

      "...like every other tech company in the states.“

      You understand perfectly, grasshopper. Open up, the rectal probe is on it's way in.

      1. Michael C.

        Re: Wait, let's review the facts.

        Nothing you said distinguishes Whisper from practically any other app. I wasn't commenting on privacy in general, but specifically what all the fuss is about Whisper, other than the Guardian clearly having a grudge to settle.

        1. solo

          Re: Wait, let's review the facts.

          "..what all the fuss is about Whisper.."

          Because was PROMISING to be different and anonymous.

          1. Michael C.

            Re: Wait, let's review the facts.

            Geolocation is optional and knowing a city of origin (potentially inaccurately) doesn't make it not anonymous.

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